Dear fellow youth, we are capable; we are powerful. As we embark on 2019, may we go beyond making tonnes of money and benefiting ourselves; may we bear visions that will impact our societies and may we be drivers of the change that we want to see.
"The young have power, now it is time we harness it for our growth. This world demands the qualities of youth: Not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease …”
I begin this column — and essentially this New Year — with the profound words Robert F. Kennedy spoke in Cape Town in 1966 during his visit to South Africa. Senator Kennedy, who would be assassinated exactly two years later in June 1968, understood an important fact that many leaders today forget about the youth; they are the hope of the world, the hope of our country, the hope of our societies and the hope of our industries.
Last week, the US House of Representatives elected 78-year-old Nancy Pelosi, a representative from California, to the become the House Speaker, for a second stint, she’s the first woman to hold the position and the most powerful woman in the history of American politics.
In a recent interview, when asked on her advice to young women — and youth by extension — Pelosi answered with powerful words: “Know your power,” she said. She has also been quoted many times saying; “No one gives you power, you have to take it from them.”
So today’s piece is a message to every young Kenyan. Whether you are reading me on your phone seated in a noisy matatu, or in your dorm room anxiously awaiting a new academic year or even leafing through this newspaper in search of a job opportunity, today’s message is for you. As we begin 2019, I would like every Kenyan aged 18-35 to know this; you are powerful.
Let me give a little perspective. We, the youth, make up 16 per cent of the global population, which means there are more than 1.2 billion of us on this planet. Closer home, in Kenya, the youth make up 80 per cent of the total population, meaning that there are about 40 million of us within our borders. That is a critical mass.