Congratulations, Nadia Ahmed Abdalla and Zack Kinuthia, on your surely honourable invitation to the Achebian elders’ table.
I have no iota of doubt that you spared neither the waters of the mighty Styx nor heavenly sprinklers to wash your hands clean enough to earn the rare accentuation of the Elder-in-Chief. It was long overdue.
But now, the task lying ahead for you is more than the President described it. In his own words, you have been installed to understudy the expertise and experiences (and inexperience) of your seniors in readiness to serve in these positions in future.
I am unsure whether to christen it a high-profile government internship programme or not.
However, the youth of this nation, who have consistently raised their voices when they felt they were being sidelined in these appointments, expect more than an understudy.
When a delegation of over 300 youth gathered from the six East African Community countries met to discuss their fate in Arusha last November, the performance of the youth in ‘senior’ leadership positions was a subject of ridicule.
PROVE THEM WRONG
The YouLead Summit 2019 openly admitted that sometimes, and most of the time, such youth become the worst ambassadors of our competence.
The Kenyan delegation — featuring Kajiado Deputy Governor Moshisho, Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association CEO Buluma Samba and the vibrant Ugenya MP David Ochieng’ — admitted that, partly, we are our own enemies.
Therefore, your appointment, coupled with the emphasis the President put, summons the potential of all vociferous (and dormant) youth of this region and continent to a test.
Your performance, not ours, will remain a standard reference to any form of youth advocacy we will continue or initiate.
We have collectively suffered the ineptitude of our privileged peers before. Seasoned Ugandan journalist-turned-political analyst Andrew Mwenda was utterly unapologetic, terming us the most disorganised generation of youth.
We want less of his mockery in the 2020 summit.
Both the Ministry of Education and the newly-baptised Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs are critical.
For Zack, there is the new teacher internship programme that brought on board 10,000 trained but unemployed young teachers on a one-year ‘payable’ contract.
There is already much about it but the most astounding is the Sh10,000-15,000 ‘peanut’ attached to it.
And I foresee a conflict between the 10 per cent absorbed as interns and the 90 per cent who were turned down despite expressing interest.
For Nadia, the transfer of the Department of Youth Affairs to the ICT ministry is heavenly.
Youth Affairs has been devastatingly enjoined into gender, camouflaging the potential in the youthful majority.
But now, the highly active, innovative and creative ‘meme-genarians’ (and fellow YouTubers) are looking up to you. Fight for us.
Odhiambo Kaumah, teacher, poet and SDG 4 youth advocate. [email protected]