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Youth Active Participation in: Democracy, Good Governance and Nation Building by Creating Space in the Mainstream Politics Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Carrie Ndoka, Kenya Jun 15, 2006
Child & Youth Rights , Human Rights   Opinions
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They tell me, “If you find a slave asleep, don’t wake him up; he maybe dreaming of freedom” I reply, “If you find a slave asleep, wake him up and talk to him about freedom”.

(Politics: Oxford Dictionary describes, “Activities associated with the governance of a country or area”.)

It is now obvious that the future of Africa lies in good leadership and those responsible are without dispute young leaders. We all agree that good governance, democracy, constitutionalism and nation building are heavily shaped by the quality of a country’s politics. If the future of Africa lies in the youth, how then can space be created in the mainstream politics to realize it? Take the Kenyan political scene for example.

Hard hitting facts:
At independency in 1963, Kenyan population was about 5 million. Currently we are an estimate 33 million, meaning that 28 million Kenyans are below the age of 43 years. If those above 60 years are only about 600,000, it therefore means those between the ages of 18- 43 years are the majority. That is about 25 million! Registered voters are currently 10 million according to Electoral Commission of Kenya, clearly only half of those eligible to vote; 18 years and above. The pertinent question is therefore: where are the rest of potential voters as out of the 10 million registered voters, only less than 7 million voted in 2002?

From the above the following emerged:
- 4 million youth aged 18 and above have no Identity cards automatically eliminating them from the voting process.
- A significant number of them have no birth certificates therefore they do not exist.
- Majority of the youth who have votes are apathetic to the whole process. They feel their voting would not make a different.
- For the youth that vote, majority vote for the wrong reasons such as: electing leaders from their ethnic groups even though they do not merit, electing those who have dished out the most money, peer pressure and often pressure from one’s family to vote for particular leader as a block.
- A large percentage of the youth watch at the periphery as they are ignorant of the importance of being in political party specifically in the mainstream politics were crucial decisions about a nation are made.
- Civic education has yet to fully incorporated and emphasized that there are youth who are great leaders and merit a chance.

As for those youth in mainstream politics, they face the following:
- Patronage; where senior party members do not create spaces for the youth to play crucial roles in the political parties.
- Lack of clear political party ideology and value system that guides the operation of the party and the conduct of its members indiscriminately especially on age and gender.
- Ethnicity where membership of most political parties is dictated by ethnicity stemming from the founders of the parties or the individuals that are funding it. This has caused chaos, and a lot of heartache for youth who find themselves barred from progressing or participating in crucial roles. The shift of loyalty, distrust, corruption and vertical solidarity determines who gets what within the political parties.
- Gender discrimination has had a negative impact on young ladies within the parties whose participation is limited and their contribution unrecognized. The culture of violence, mud slinging and character assassination has discouraged many competent young ladies from fully engaging in politics.
- Lack of resources, especially funding political activities and maintaining the required mechanisms.

Way forward:
A new dawn has emerged where the luxury of comfortably sitting back and complaining as youth has long gone. Africa cannot continue being a continent of succession without successors, youth leaders are the best alternative.
Some of the forward include:
- Legal backing through Political Party Bills, a strong National Youth Policy and lobbying for Affirmative Action Bills for the youth.
- Strategies on resource mobilization to support potential youth election candidates, civic education with a special focus on the critical role of youth, networking and coordination of youth activities to form a platform where we speak in one voice and push our agenda, working with media for the benefit of youth and building their capacity as leaders who work with and for the people they represent and thus, the community at the grassroots. Encourage youth to join sound political parties.
- Youth have to develop good leadership skills and learn from others. Practice leadership that enables positive transformation in our countries.
- Focus and scope of leadership should not be limited to politics and national level; it should transcend boundaries into regional and international levels. We should be able to have competent youth representatives in such bodies. It is imperative to adapt universally accepted value systems, broaden our knowledge by exposing ourselves to what youth leaders and leaders from other age-groups and countries are engaged in, learn and adapt what works best.

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Carrie Ndoka

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Thumbs up!!!
ANNELINE | Aug 13th, 2006
Lady, I feel you on that article. You have been touching so many truths, I say, the time has come for young people to take charge of the resources that are theirs. It's about time that we as young people stand up, stand firm against non-believers and show these people that we are ready to make decisions for ourselves. The time has pass for the incumbents that don't want to release power to us, the leaders of today, I say NO to those who say we are the leaders of tomorrow, because we are already playing a leading role in the development of our communities, TODAY. See my article on YOUTH MUST ADAPT TO CHANGE. It compliments your article. Once again, lady, thank you for making your voice heard, on behalf of the African Youth. You would also love my poem YOUNG PEOPLE, TAKE CHARGE. They are both on TIG.

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