The youths from wider Mathare have been engaged in serious campaigns to elect youth representatives right from the grassroots to national level. Tomorrow (18/5/2011) the elections will be held country wide for the local youth representatives. Both male and female candidates have come out to vie for various positions.
The process so far has been peaceful and there is total difference with how ‘adult’ led elections are conducted. In Kiamaiko for example, those vying for various position were called by the youths so that they can share their vision if elected.
Walking in the community one will notice poster allover while other have printed brochure outlining their agenda if elected. In Mathare I have liked the creativity by those seeking to be elected.
Many contestants have avoided being associated with the local MP, hon. Bishop Wanjiru or councillors as this will cost them votes. This should be a pointer to the 2012 general election direction.
On the criteria set, the election is bound to lock out youth who have been active in the community because of education requirement. It is common sense in places such Mathare slums, it is youth who are less educated that have always been available to volunteer in community led projects. In the place of education, the Ministry of Youth should have substituted the requirement with how one has been active in the community. Above that, the government should be commended for putting system in place being the first election.
Our centre provided a base for voter registration and from the look of things; it seems that very few youths registered. If the youth are to capture power, then voter registration should be taken seriously. The only thing missing is the vibrant involvement of big NGOs and the United Stated of America embassy in Nairobi unlike the general elections when there is huge investments by NGOs and foreign mission. The USA ambassador will have done the job half way he had started of grooming youth leaders for 2012 and beyond. – Simon