International Youth Day: To hell with romanticisation of leadership

International Youth Day 2020/UN

The United Nations set August 12 as the International Youth Day.

This year’s theme Youth Engagement for Global Action impresses on young people the need to take substantive action and participate in the enrichment national and multilateral institutions and processes.

It’s a timely theme though the living mechanics in this pandemic period may not necessarily facilitate a robust reflection on the message. However, and given the myriad problems that young people face, it is always a right time to critically examine the challenges and why we got here.

The frame of reference in this examination remains problems facing the youth in Kenya, and specifically their tragic obsession with political romanticisation.

Politicians run the excitement centre, thus tuning Kenya’s collective psyche at will, and on whims. They made this observation years before independence, and have perfected it for decades.  And all states have their versions of political excitement. Kenya, however, is a stellar illustration on what can go wrong when citizens absorb a obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) from politics. These activities do not come from exceptional leaders but political warlords, tribal chieftains and egomaniacs exciting, who seek to selfish interests. It is not about access to basics such as healthcare, education or the welfare of the youth and their other constituents.

Ideally, romanticisation of leadership should be directed to heroes and people reliable enough to achieve visible transformation. In our Kenyan environment, we accepted to worship mediocrity and got animated by leaders who excel in theatrics and stagecraft. The Mike Sonkos we have did not get into the stage in 2010, they came up through the ranks. We have had props for leaders in almost a century. Given the current excitement with 2022 politics, revolving extremely recycled leaders, nothing is about to change.

Unfortunately, it is the young people of this country letting everyone down. Of course, voting processes involve all adults only that the behaviour adopted by young people on political decisions paint a painfully grim future. They ought to bring the change but unfortunately, our youths remain excited about personalised leadership, handouts and herd mentality. We will not get anywhere as a country with such kind of mentality. That and individual will get a few thousands, have access to high offices and thus feel entitled to a political leadership position? You’ll receive attention based on the handout and nothing on your manifesto. We have had so many examples of this reality there is no need to repeat them on this platform.

Having understood the script on primitive youth mobilisation, politicians are readying to apply their old age carrot and stick behaviour. They’ll dangle the carrot during election time, and turn up with the stick after the polls.

But for now, cash safes are ready. Sponsorship of toxic ethnic songs and violence and distribution of signage merchandise are goodies easily acceptable to young people. Everything else such as reliable public school systems, access to clean water, employment opportunities etc will not feature in  the campaigns given the level of worrying romanticisation held by young people. It is not about substance but optics.

I would suggest we give up and let the country free fall to abyss. If the young people have absorbed the ways of the primitive animals in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, there’s no way the pigs will change their ways. They’ll proceed to make merry and mess up the farm, and watch as the sheep, the donkeys and hens fight among themselves.

Those messing our country are not mystical in any way. They are the pigs feeding on your sweat as you rush to worship them.

They have the script ready and will use it to their last breath. Young people, run away from deep critique of your leaders and let the country collapse!

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