The Tswana have a proverb that says that the young bird does not crow until it hears the old ones. In essence, the youth cannot speak unless they have heard the elders speak and they will ape and copy.
This has been bothering me for a while now and as I watch cartoons with my mind on the Msambweni by-elections, the stark reality of what the Building Bridges Initiative really means to us as Kenyans and the youth, in particular, has hit home.
The Tanga Tanga brigade has grouped the youth into a cluster called the … ‘hustlers…’ and this is not sitting well with them.
It’s a shame what has transpired in the Msambweni by-election. What with the insults and counter insults and the violence that has left a sour taste in our mouths. As elders, I believe we have let down our youth and definitively sacrificed their future because of our greed for power today.
Zambians too, have a proverb that says, … ‘The worlds of the elders do not lock all the doors; they leave the right door open.’ Am wondering, what right door are we leaving for our youth as we politic today on matters that will affect them more than us?
My father has always told me that where I will sit when I am old will show where I stood in my youth. Watching the happenings in Msambweni, my heart has broken because, at the end of it all, the youth of this country have gotten a raw deal.
The architects of the handshake and the proponents of the BBI must change tact and tune in how they engage the youth who form the largest part of the electorate at more than 75 percent.
The President and Hon. Raila might be the bearers of the vision that gave birth to the handshake and ultimately birthed the BBI but the youth are the beneficiaries of whatever the handshake and the BBI will bring forth. Whether that will be of virtue or vice, only time will tell and we may be too late to change anything.
Nigerians have a very interesting proverb that defines the relationship between the youth and their elders in a more apt manner. It says that when the roots of a tree begin to decay, it spreads death to the branches. As we age and the youth become the denominator of our existence, what do we spread to them? What do they gain in return? What kind of warriors are they? Our dear President in one of his addresses to the Nation, aptly put it, that the youth must rise up and pay the price for whatever dream that they have. That nothing will be easy to come by and for once, I agreed with him. Our youth must be told the plain truth, though it hurt much. Spoon feeding the youth is a dangerous aspect because they become weak in thought and lazy in deeds and for the longest time, this is what we have been doing.
We have a generation that I love to call the microwave generation. They want and need everything in an instant. Life isn’t built this way. A genuine success story takes at least twenty years to build up. This is something that they do not understand and in this regard, the reins of this country must be left in the hands of those who have been taught better. Every old man was once a young man but not every young man would become an old man.
An elder uses old eyes to see and so the young use young eyes. An animal that gives birth to a young one in the desert must suckle it in the desert. It’s the young trees that make up the forest. We need to inculcate the youth completely in the process of the BBI. They must believe and trust and own the process. The President and Hon. Odinga are simply messengers of fortune. The youth are the warriors that we must train, nurture, and send out to defend, protect, guide, and grow our country.
The question that I need an answer to is, how prepared are our youth to tackle and handle all the issues that we are facing as a country? How have we prepared them? Have we listened to them? Have their needs been factored in the BBI? Do they want tax incentives or they want better business environments where they can easily grow their businesses, create jobs for more youth, and pay their taxes without any issues? How are we engaging them? How are we talking to them? Do we respect them?
My father loves to use the environment around him to teach me lessons. He once told me that where water is the boss, there, the land must obey. In the context of the youth and Kenya, they are the majority and we must acquiesce to their needs and desires because the choices we make today, the decisions we take today, they are the ones that will bear the brunt of them, good or bad.
We are the bearers of our vision as a country that is revered in the region. We bear the vision for our future generations. The denominator of the essence of this vision is the quintessence of peace and stability which are core catalysts for economic development and prosperity. We need to do more for the youth. They do not need free things like tax incentives but sustainable opportunities for them to thrive through their own lessons or lessons from us.
As I write, the Msambweni by-election has not gone well for the BBI proponents and that to me is good news because it’s the jolt they needed to wake up and realize that the BBI conversation needs to change. That the youth must be part and parcel of the journey. The President and Hon. Raila must invite the youth to the table and engage them like equals. They must transfer their lessons through mentorship and teachings. I challenge the President to take me in and mentor me and share with me his lessons on his journey to the most powerful man in the country. I believe that for BBI to pass, its proponents must change tact and involve the youth completely. The discourse must take a different path or else what we seek to heal with BBI shall fester under the bandages of piecemeal legislation and will definitely explode one day into a malignant cancer that will have no cure.
Stephen Colbert once said that … “Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.” This means that for BBI to pass through, the youth must say yes. The youth must inculcate the document, interrogate it, and pass it because they are the ones who will carry the pains and gains of the same.
What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of unemployment, tribalism, and nepotism can be cured. The Ivorians have a proverb that says… ‘the death of an elderly man is like a burning library. Hon. Raila has vast lessons to share with the youth. He must change tact on how we view and engages them. The President needs to stop passing the blame to parliament as the reason why he has engaged very few youths and be the leader we all know he can be and mentor more youth to be better than him.
We desire to bequeath two things to our children; the first one is roots, the other one is wings. The BBI, if well pushed, should give our youth the roots of a better society to live in and the wings to conquer the world as leaders.