The Locked Doors of Opportunity


The Youth\’s Struggle for Representation in Public Service

As we celebrate this year\’s International Youth Day, it is paramount to engage in a discourse that addresses a long-lived concern – the young people who feel excluded from governmental processes and higher echelons like the cabinet, despite the youth constituting the majority of the population. This lament resonates loudly, highlighting a disconcerting gap between the potential of youth and their representation in positions of influence.

However, delving into the reasons, here\’s my perspective on why the journey to power remains elusive for many young individuals:

Generational Dynamics: Once the older generation assumes power, they tend to collaborate with their peers, whom they share deeper connections with. This inclination often leaves younger individuals on the periphery, struggling to break into this established network.

Resource Imbalance: Financial resources play a pivotal role in ascending to powerful positions. Regrettably, numerous young people lack these resources due to factors like unemployment, limited networks, and underdeveloped investments. That leaves the young people outside public office appointments because they did not contribute to the shares held by the government of the day

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Perception of Maturity: Society often perceives the youth as less mature, incapable of leading or managing public affairs. This perception is compounded by cultural norms that emphasize age, owning a family , and wealth as qualifications for leadership. Insult is added to the injury when some youth engage in negative behaviors like laziness, substance abuse, appetite for quick money and violence.

Comfort in Subordination & Self-Inflicted Fear: Some young people are content remaining in junior roles. They\’ve internalized the notion that older individuals are more qualified for leadership. This self-imposed limitation hinders them from embracing the competitive nature of our society and seeking challenges. Many youth also struggle with communication in terms of how they put their ideas across without making older people offended or threatened.

On the other hand, fear, an emotion we\’ve inadvertently thrust upon ourselves, holds many young people back. The dread of speaking out against the government for fear of reprisals, arrests, or even future discrimination hinders their advocacy for change. But, embracing these risks is an investment in future leadership – silence does not inspire trust or confidence.

Lack of Unity: Fragmentation among young people weakens their collective voice. Older generations sometimes exploit these divisions to maintain their grip on power. The internal strife amongst the youth diminishes their potential for change.

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Furthermore, it is also possible that when our generation finally gets to power, another generation of the youth will come and still feel left out. This begs the question: Does our society perpetuate inequality, favoring those who actively seek opportunities or those who merely stumble upon them by chance? At present, the answer seems affirmative.

Nonetheless, the narrative can change. Young people must mobilize, amplify their voices, and foster collaboration. Rising beyond financial barriers, breaking stereotypes, and embracing leadership are essential steps. In the end, our collective determination and action will shape the future we aspire to. Remember, change is born from unity, courage, and the audacity to confront challenges head-on.

-By Boniface Muema Harrison

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