Talk to any Kenyan and they are quick to point, if we only manage to change the existing leadership, then we will have a new Kenya. But what kind of change is this? How can we achieve and sustain this change? Many imagine that the most workable solution will be to replace all the existing leaders and we have a NEW Kenya. Is this really the case? The President of the United States in America thinks otherwise and somehow I concur with him. “Africa needs strong institutions not strong men” he said so during his African tour in Accra, Ghana in 2009.
“I once said a prayer and asked God to forgive me. I prayed if only a terrorist came and bombed the whole 10thParliament, then we will be closer to getting somewhere as Kenyans. I hate these guys. These corrupt leaders, who care less for the ordinary Kenyan like me.” Said a Kenyan friend.
Attending a 3 day workshop with 60 young aspirants from all over the country at Maanzoni Lodge a week ago, this was a clear indication that the Kenyan youth is ready for the race. The conference, budded “Get informed, Get involved, Initiative Youth in Political Parties” was organized by The Youth Agenda and Amkeni Wakenya.
Many of these youths have a clear vision of why they really want to be part the leadership in Kenya. “Apart from the fact that I really want to lead Kenyans, I am not ruling out the fact that just like many of us, I also want to maintain status quo.” Said one of the aspirants amidst huge laughter.
“As youths we really need to consider the agenda that we want to pursue for this country. What is it that we are really passionate about? The future belongs to the youth, but we have to prove fit of the task ahead,” remarked Susan Kariuki, the Chief Executive Officer at Youth Agenda.
I sat down and wrote some of the challenges, so that once we know them; we can help these youths who yearn to be the change agents in our country. Some of these are our brothers, sisters, relatives, friends and even our opponents. They need our support in one way or another, please be there for them and give them all the support they want.
Many of the aspirants were quite young, some in their early 20s and they indicated that some of their family members were not happy when they announced their decision to get into politics. “Kenyan politics, is a dirty game, please stay away from this.” Remarked an aspirant. He lamented that this was so discouraging, coming from his parents a clear indication that they were not ready to support him in his pursuit. “Mine is a calling and I have decided I am going to push on.” He said.
Hussein Mohammed who is the Board Chairman at Youth Agenda led the aspirants through a very crucial and important aspect of political campaign. He talked about Fundraising and Resource Mobilization for Campaigns. Most of the aspirants looked discouraged because the trend in Kenya has been, politics is only for the mighty, the rich, the affluent, the well-off and for starters, it has always been, “Please wait until you have money.” He encouraged the aspirants to look beyond their financial capabilities, instead focus on ways in which families, relatives and friends could come in and assist them. Over to you, some of the fresh blood we may be eager to see in our leadership might not have the resources, but they have a burning desire, help them realize this dream.
Kenyans are funny, yes we are. Ask me, I know it quite well, when you are of my age and you are not married, the society doesn’t think much of you. The question will be, “Why are you not married, why don’t you have a family of your own, how can we trust you with our resources yet you cannot even manage a family?” I am informed that this is one key aspect Kenyan voters will be looking for as they listen to your manifestos as an aspirant. “Since I declared my interest for the political race, my parents back at home, my relatives and even close associates of my grandmother, called me and told me it was time that I got married.” He says it was made clear to him with evidence that the people from his area never elect unmarried men. “ Let’s plan for a wedding soon. You will need your wife by you as you go for these political campaigns. That way they will consider you a serious candidate. That was in June last year and by November, I got married. Ask the rest of the people here, many are getting married before October this year.” Whispered one of the aspirants. “When you have children, you even stand a better chance.” Said another one.
So what happens to those without even girlfriends and boyfriends? I see a money-making opportunity for me, I will soon declare an advert… “Wife for hire only for political aspirants.” This means, you hire me all the time you go out for your political campaigns and rallies, just to show the people you have a wife and I will support you as your wife, you only need to make me understand your manifesto and I will cram it a night before the event. Come on let’s face it, I see there might be a need for fake husbands and wives, if this will add to your success. I am just thinking aloud!
The Role of the Media
“Media is very expensive. Media is very corrupt, how do we deal with the media? Media is very bias on some candidates. Dealing with the Kenyan media has been our greatest challenge.” There was a huge discussion on media and how to deal with the media. Sitting at a corner, as a journalist, I felt sad, I was burning and I was depressed. At one point had to stand up and defend the media. “I feel sad, deep within me, my heart aches when I hear all these stories about the corrupt journalists and media houses you have mentioned. It is a sad state and the truth is, as bad as it is, you will need the media. You need to know how to deal with the media.” Jean Kamau a media consultant had a rough time trying to explain how these aspirants can deal with the media. While women were cautioned about shying away from the cameras, it was also important to know how the media operates.
“Know your media contacts well, know when to ask the media people to cover your story. Not all stories are newsworthy, so make sure you package your story in a way that it attracts some media coverage. Make it relevant,” Advised Jean. Next week, I will blog, “On Corrupt Journalists and Media Houses in Kenya.” It is very sad to hear some of these big reporters mentioned as corrupt journalist in such a big conference. However, while we want to blame it all on the journalists, we as Kenyans have failed in our part. “When you pay or bride working journalists such that your story gets featured on either TV, Radio or on the print medium, blame it on your ignorance and stupidity.” This has always been my take.
In Kenya, many political aspirants are will be judged based on the political parties they associate with or political parties they are in. This is the reason we have had a long debate on who is joining which party and leaving which party and what implication does the same have to these political aspirants. Political parties are out to sell their manifestos, using all the best words possible to entice the aspirants to join them and vie for these political seats as members of given political parties. Many will be confused. If you have a clue, kindly do advise them, you might not decide for them, but you can give them some direction.
Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason. ~José Maria de Eça de Queiroz.