80 per cent of Kenya's entire populace is below 35 years of age.
The Kenya Youth Survey Report released last year found that those between 18-35 years are upbeat about the future, entrepreneurial, concerned about unemployment and vulnerability to political manipulation.
Most importantly though, they are weighed down by a crisis of integrity. How better to test this than compile their voices and prose in one of the best poetry anthologies in Kenya today?
PROSE AS A PLATFORM
Through the Journey of Hope is compiled by Elizabeth Opiyo, Ralph Okado and Gideon Makenzi and published by Writers Guild Kenya. In many arenas of life in the country and beyond, the voice of the youth is usually snubbed.
They are not heard or given a platform to air their views on issues that beset the republic. They are expected to just agree on the set path before them and make something out of it.
Through the Journey of Hope takes a wholly new direction. Poetry is the beat of the soul and the poet is the vessel of outpouring prose.
We crave prodigious word plays and dexterously crafted poems in the spoken word, rhyming hip hop lines and soothing, suave words in love ballads. The soul craves for poetry.
All these confirm we deeply desire well written poems that speak about us and to us. From the first poem ‘A Gamble with Our Motherland’ by Cynthia Katali in Through the Journey of Hope you can feel the misshapen rhythm of our gambling nation in more ways than you can say.
WATER FOR THE SOUL
Reading Through the Journey of Hope is like tasting a glassful of satisfying, cold clean water that cuts deep into your heart. The poetry anthology is wholly written by youths who carve in beautiful enthralling poetry various themes manifest in Kenya today.
With Prof Egara Kabaji’s forward, a scathing take on the way poetry is taught in classrooms destroying the flavour of the voice of the soul, the different youthful poets from around the country will melt your heart with their brilliant styles.
JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
Through the Journey of Hope is like having different young people in the same room, putting different themes before them and allowing them to air their views poetically.
13 themes in total, you read talented young Kenyans take on corruption, cultural diversity, education, family, oppression, health care, the plight of Kenya, politics and leadership, life emotions, poverty, random thoughts, romance and love and technology and innovation.
What is education through their eyes? Daisy Chepchumba Yator’s ‘Through My Eyes’ answers:
Through my eyes,
I see a nation,
A nation full of scholars,
All for the papers,
None for the brain.
‘In the Plight of Kenyans’ section, perhaps the deepest emotions and acerbic views about our nation come out such as Imran Mohamed Shakeel Bakhrani’s ‘Dream or Reality’ about the silent graveyard that makes our metropolitans.
Cultural diversity is real in a highly ethnicised country as captured by Francis Omondi’s rippling ‘Mother, When I Will Be Gone’, a warm piercing enjoyment.
You find yourself agreeing with Sally Ndegwa, a Form One student in random thoughts on friendship akin to expectation of amity between a fly and a frog in ‘No Promises for the Living’.
Christopher Fry posited that “poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement”. Through the Journey of Hope is a perfect way to explore the amazing mind, desires, feelings and vision oozing out of the Kenyan youth about everything around them.
It’s the voice of the young helping us to listen to ourselves through the tip of the pen.