Kenyan youth urged to shun tribalism

Wednesday July 11 2012

By AGGREY MUTAMBO [email protected]

Kenyan youth have been advised to shun tribalism and reject leaders who thrive on the vice in the run up to the next General Election.

Switzerland ambassador to Kenya Jacques Pittloude said on Wednesday that Kenya’s governance will improve if young voters refuse to be drawn into tribal battles by politicians, but instead choose those who preach nationhood.

Joining an increasing number of European diplomats who have been advising Kenya on proper conduct of elections and good governance, Mr Pittloude told a group of young people in Nairobi that keeping silent about poor leadership would only make matters worse.

“In Africa, and particularly in Kenya, there is an obsession for the ‘Big Man’. But as many of you in this room will testify, voting for your tribesman will not help you, it will help their families, everybody else will remain poor,” he said during the launch of a report on youth participation in Kenya’s economic blueprint, Vision 2030 at Ufungamano, Nairobi.

“Next time, someone shows up to buy your vote, take the money, because it is your money anyway, but vote with your conscience.”

The ambassador said the fact that Kenyan youth consist of almost two thirds of the entire population makes their voting decisions a key factor in determining the country’s future.

“If you really want a better society where your children will lead a better and comfortable life, support the end of impunity. Reject tribalism because tribalism is racism.”

And with the growing number of youth using social media, the ambassador said it was a great tool to put their elected leaders in check especially on matters of corruption and failed promises.

“In Switzerland, I struggle to remember the name of our president because we change them often. We don’t need leaders, we need people who can do what they are ordered to do by the voters.

“They need to be servants of the people, not their pockets.” 

Mr Pittloude becomes the third diplomat to advise Kenyans on voting wisely. Last month, former French ambassador to Kenya, Elisabeth Barbier, now French Director of Africa Affairs, said her country is ready to “mentor” Kenya on conducting elections properly.

And on Tuesday, German ambassador to Kenya Margit Hellwig-Boette called on electoral agency, IEBC, to learn from her country on how to reduce the cost of conducting elections without compromising their integrity.