Kenya: Caught between the interchange of history and youth!
By Anthony Opara
In seven weeks, Kenyans go to the polls to elect a President, an experience that will see to either the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta getting the nod to lead the nation for a second term or the election of his long-standing opposition foe, the former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga as the fifth President of the Republic.
The August 8 polls is coming against a maelstrom of fierce campaigning, threats of boycott, agitation and protests even as it is very clear that the stakes are indeed very high. Kenya is East Africa’s largest economy, most populous nation and one of the top five principal centres of business on the African continent.
Other than the fact that the principal contenders in the current elections have slugged it out against each other before, there is the additional fact that even before them, their fathers had equally gone against each other in the search for the leader of the republic.
Also, analysts say that this election is looking like a very clear demographic challenge. For example. a princely 80 percent of the nation’s population is composed of those who have not marked their 36th birthday. Indeed, going further, the nation with the most youthful voters in the East African region has a voters roll with a startling bent: more than half of the gross tally of 19 million registered voters are youth.
In the past, the youth had been used for scores-settling in previous electoral cycles. More recently however, there have been moves to raise the level of youth political education in-country as part of efforts to combat the possibility of violence as well as ensure that they channel their voting strengths more purposefully.
Beyond the emotions involved, a positive outcome from this poll would be inaugurating Kenya’s finest hour yet. With its rival contenders for the leadership of the continent – Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt – embroiled in one level of crisis or the other, the coast is literally very clear for the East African giant to shine. And this platform has also been helped by the remarkable advances being made in the extended East African sub-region where nations like Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia have continued to up their game in the arena of development and growth.
Already, a lot of the business and FDI interest in the continent has begun to shift east-wards and with the East African Community continuing to work assiduously in the field of rail, internet, fibre-optic connectivity and furthercooperation in the areas of a common passport, customs and travel protocols, a successful non-violent end to the current season of electioneering in Kenya will be the icing on the cake for the nation and sub-region.
So who wins the presidency? Ask the youth!