It’s somewhat immoral to talk about Heroes and not mention the Field Marshall, Dedan Kimathi or the Kapenguria six. While a lot’s been said about these heroes’ selflessness. Very few people pause and think what if their mothers aborted them? Abortion may seem a far-fetched idea in the colonial era but it existed in many forms-including artificial miscarriages; that is to say the war heroes lived up to that name because their mothers wanted them to live-technology or no technology. But several years after we attained self-rule women only appear as an after-thought for the ruling elite.
Mashujaa Day isn’t just about the day we celebrate heroes who stood up to the colonial powers. No, it’s also a day to reflect on why the heroes rebelled against the white government, consequential as it was. When did Kenyans change to this unconcerned self-centered individual today? Kenyans in the colonial era were just and honest about their personal journeys. They were aware of their right for a better education free of racial or any other form of segregation. Today’s Kenya however, appears to have given up on the need to stand up for his or her rights. Today’s Kenyan can’t even offer an opinion on a Bill that will define his future in unpleasant ways, yet the opportunity is there.
And while we’re still on national heroes, the average Kenyan today has local and international celebrities as their heroes. The youth particularly look up to this people with flashy lifestyles-many who can’t explain their source of wealth and immoral to the core; thus the growing number of “Sponsors”. No wonder a research by Shujaaz 360 reveals that the adolescents have more energy for sex money and fun than the 20-24 year olds. The research further confirms, to nobody’s surprise that on average young people spend almost twice as much as they make.
These “heroes” unlike true national heroes have numbed Kenyans, and do not inspire them to take charge of their future, take the youth and women for instance. Despite their number, they appear completely un-puzzled by their circumstances as a result of poor governance. In the colonial era we had heroines who hid the Mau Mau warriors and knew that their input mattered. Today’s Kenyan woman despite bearing the brunt of inflation and struggling to put food on the table or children through school among other challenges remains surprisingly unmoved.
Women are literally the back-bone of the country but successive self-rule governments have done little to elevate the woman in the society so much that there is only 19% women Parliamentary representation. The lowest in the region-most East African countries have at least 30% women Parliamentary representation. And the percentage is likely to go down considering the talk on the ballooning wage bill. Its clear Kenyans are over-represented as the Auditor General’s team revealed while launching the impact of the Constitution the last six years. While there’s a need for reduction the position of women reps which had considerably helped with the two-thirds gender rule is under threat.
That aside, education despite being a basic human right is still not a reality for most women with children of school-going age. Far flung regions have children studying under a tree in Kenya’s 21st century because there are no enough chairs or classes or chalk boards. A research by Uwezo Kenya Initiative puts the teacher student ratio in Turkana at 1:86. Meanwhile a World Bank report showed that only 35% of public school teachers showed mastery of the content they were teaching in class. Aren’t these statistics enough to get women concerned about the leadership on display? At least for the sake of their children’s future
When we reflect on the struggle for independence we remember it was the strength of the youth that made it possible. But in Kenya a report by #Shujaaz360 show that 41% of the youth aged 20-24 live below the poverty line, and 18% of this group are already married or cohabiting. Consider also, only 4% of the same age group have enough money to meet all their needs and wants. It’s sad that 50years after we achieved self-rule there’s little the youth can be happy about.
The youth have become disillusioned, giving in to alcoholism and other forms of drug addiction and the elected leaders rather than addressing these issues-use it to their advantage during electioneering period. The youth numbers are growing; a report by Aghakan university reveals 85% of Kenya’s population are youths but the successive governments seem to have absolutely no plan for them except the usual “creation of jobs” mantras that exist only in government statistics hence the distractive habits.
In fact #Shujaaz360 reveals rather disturbingly that 20% of the youth’s income-those lucky to have a job goes to airtime. Take note that 80% are not formally employed. Mobile phones are a good forum to blow off steam. The youth spend time gossiping on their phones, courting and sending sex offers, the research reveals.
While others have become entrepreneurial and taken advantage of the Startup environment promoted by the private sector, it is immoral for the government of the day to use this as the solution to unemployment in Kenya. The elected government must do right by youth and women and refuse the desire to abscond their obligation to angel investors and or donors willing to make use of brilliant youths and their projects. If the government can offer foreigners jobs in almost every grand infrastructural project, then surely the government is able to create jobs for the youth in Kenya.
It is time the youth and women learnt a thing or two from our Shujaaz. Freedom is not given. No, it’s taken. Unfortunately for our independence heroes, it took sweat and ultimately blood. As for the present day youth and women, it means taking a stand and saying, enough! It means taking time outside your busy schedule to register with the intention of making your voice clear on the voting day. You too can be a Shujaa and secure a better future for the youth and women.