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Leaders should find meaningful ways to engage youth in political leadership

Saturday September 9 2017

Youths from Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties join in a procession in Maua town on July 13, 2017. The meeting that was organised by Zoe-Kenya, enlightened them against being misused by politicians.  PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Youths from Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties join in a procession in Maua town on July 13, 2017. The meeting that was organised by Zoe-Kenya, enlightened them against being misused by politicians. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ANNE KARIUKI
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By KELLEN KIAMBATI
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Successful democratic transition in Kenya will require us to start the process of engaging young people to peacefully participate in political processes and give them a stake in the country’s future.

We should start engaging a structured conversation on how to develop the next generation of youthful leaders who are sufficiently-equipped with the right values and habits of mind to make them world changers.

If we intend to boast sustainable development, then we must investment in young people by first helping them discover their potential so that they can live a purpose-driven life.

Secondly, we must help them engage in meaningful participation in governance processes.

Over the years, different methods have been introduced as tools to promote and empower young people not only in politics but also in other sectors of public life.

Mentoring is a strategy meant to develop the personalities of young people by individuals with knowledge and experience.

OPPORTUNITIES

This tool has the potential to provide young people with opportunities to learn from those active in political and public life, thus getting useful information for planning their own political careers and the development of their own networks. 

Concrete goals are defined at the beginning and time frame agreed. It is important to note that all mentoring relationships are supposed to be constantly evaluated to ensure their success. 

Empowerment of young people in politics is considered a difficult mission given the cultural and social attitudes and behaviours towards the role of youth in a society.

To increase the participation of youth in the political process, there is need to provide them with the much-needed skills and knowledge to engage both national and county governments more effectively.

This way, they will be in a position to lobby for issues directly affecting them. This will, in turn, deliberately develop the next generation of political, government and civil society leaders.

PROJECTS

It will also involve the youth in projects that help improve their communities and, most importantly, connect them with other like-minded youth around the world so that they are able to share experiences as well as to learn and support each other. Similarly, they should be taught democratic principles and methods for civic engagement in the democratic process. 

Experienced political leaders should not wait for campaign periods to engage university students.

Rather, they should work with institutions of higher learning all through to give them an avenue to peacefully share their party’s messages.

This will give young people a chance to interrogate the message, ask questions and find areas that they can directly contribute in.

This can also be an opportunity for leadership forums where young people can find a way of serving as leaders in political parties.

COMMUNITY PROJECTS

Additionally, politicians should structure their development programmes in such a way that they will have a provision to have the youth learn first-hand how to carry out successful community projects, how governments work and other important leadership skills such as communication, management and public speaking.

We have noted that young people today are increasingly interested in their communities and are ready to work together to address challenges and find solutions to long-standing problems. 

By engaging them, politicians will empower young people and give them a voice in the development of their communities as well as the country.

Additionally, they should sponsor and organise mock parliamentary sessions on societal issues for politically-active youth.

This will enable them learn how deliberations are conducted. However, the benefits of engaging young people will not be realised by just listening to them but by actively and meaningfully engaging them so that they can prosper. 

 Dr Kiambati is a management consultant and a senior lecturer at Karatina University. [email protected] ail.com. Dr Kariuki is a social scientist, management consultant and a lecturer at Karatina University. [email protected]