Youth Agenda Affirmative Action

Youth Agenda Affirmative Action

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

If I Were a Boy;

“Three men attacked me as one of them kept watch. They punched my face and hit me with a wooden rod on my neck and back. I kept telling them, take the money I had but they did not steal anything from me. One of them even told me, 'Hatuna njaa ya pesa.' They later told me that 'Embakasi iko na wenyewe'," Eunice Wambui (popularly known as  Nyasuguta) recounts her own terrible ordeal with goons who ambushed and attacked her when she announced her candidacy for Embakasi South Constituency."

“We are seeing a dangerous wave of electoral and other forms of violence. This, if not addressed, could jeopardize women and youth participation in the electoral processes. This is a critical year in our democracy. We must uphold peace and condemn all forms of violence, said Kagwiria Mbogori, the Chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

Appealing but guttural, occasionally brittle and taut throughout. That is how I would describe the tone of her voice as she gave this statement. That is how I would describe the tone of over 300 women that came out on the streets to condemn domestic and electoral violence if I tried.
We live in a country where the largest chunk of the population is made up of young women between the ages of 18 and 35. Young women that are in school studying, at home taking care of their siblings, older women running businesses, homes, even the country itself.

We also live in a country, in a continent, where women are mostly viewed as vulnerable, fragile …sometimes even weak. All a man will need to do is raise his hand as if to hit her and she’ll run like Bambi from a forest fire to do whatever he needs her to. Yes. There are the elite, the ones that have braved really bad storms to warrant them a voice and an opinion in the public, but even then they are witch-hunted for one reason or the other. 

I’ll enlist help from ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell to tell, in one quote, the story of one among every four women in Kenya.

“Life was not easy, nor was it happy, but she did not expect life to be easy, and, if it was not happy, that was the woman's lot. It was a man's world, and she accepted it as such. The man owned the property, and the woman managed it. The man took credit for the management, and the woman praised his cleverness. The man roared like a bull when a splinter was in his finger, and the woman muffled the moans of childbirth, lest she disturb him. Men were rough of speech and often drunk. Women ignored the lapses of speech and put the drunkards to bed without bitter words. Men were rude and outspoken; women were always kind, gracious and forgiving.”

That’s a piece that was published in 1863… 1863 people!! That’s 154 years ago!  And I still can’t help but wonder how many women in Kenya can relate with it today. How many young women read it just now and felt like they knew those women Margaret was talking about. How many older ones feel like they’re reading their own story?

Women that are running for public office in this election; as Governors, Senators, Members of Parliament, Members of the County Assembly or  to represent their own in the National Assembly. They are strong as iron, vivacious, sober, objective and level-headed. With limited resources and a strong will they stand in the political arena and roar in spite of the numerous poisoned arrows that shoot their way. Women that believe they can lead a nation even though the credit will go to the men, they can sing songs of freedom even though the tune will be praised on the other party, they can fight even though the trophy is likely to go to the men. These women are running for elective seats in this election, against all odds and thank God, that they have a fighting chance.

We have a great deal of young women that are on the forefront advocating for free and fair elections. They are supportive of other women that are running and men too. Their focus, is taking the country forward. They have family dinner tables to set, children to clothe and give medical care, they need water to clean, electricity to function with ease and security for their bloodlines and neighbors. They will offer civic education where needed, hold fireside conversations on politics and leadership, read books about it, and then talk about it. They are all about exercising that precious democratic right and having others follow suit.

“Exclusion of women and youth in electoral processes engineered through violence and intimidation must stop. Participation in electoral processes is a right not a privilege. Women aspirants and leaders will not condone any form of violence especially during this campaign season,” said Susan Mwongera, the CEO of Youth Agenda.

All these women have two things in common; they are leaving their own to help others take care of their own and they are sick and tired of the bullies and their shenanigans. They are stepping into the primaries, with faces brave and hearts stuck in their guts because it is a culture, a way of life, in Kenya, for them to be sexually, physically, emotionally or psychologically abused. And that’s actually a bummer. They hope that they eventually make it to the general elections, and when they do, they hope they make it out alive and well. Truth is any man or woman worth their salt will not need to resort to violence to make their pedestal higher that in itself is a loud and clear signal that something is sorely lacking

How long Kenya? How long before we bounce out of that mediocrity?

I will inform you from what I saw on Friday, that any form of violence on a woman in the coming elections, will not go unnoticed nor will it be tolerated!

A whole herd of us are watching and waiting.

To all the young women stepping up to the plate, we SALUTE you!

And if I were boy, I would never raise my voice or hand at woman that could so easily be my mother, sister, daughter or wife. It’s not right and it’s not okay. It never will.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Ask A Dada; Persil Telewa

So when we talk a Dada, we are talking a lady, a woman, a female (somehow our generation got soot on this one) – we are also talking a queen, or a duchess, a countess, or a peeress, a baroness, and ladies and gentlemen – even a gentlewoman is an English word.
When we talk a Dada, every single time it means a masterpiece created by God, also one of the best things in the world. And in extreme cases, it can be the best word for a male to take from an innocent sounding sentence and add an awkward, creepy, perverted twist. Weird, of course.

In my vocabulary, it also means badass. Someone who knows, accepts, owns and celebrates their accomplishments and gifts. Someone who knows that they can do something; and they stand up for that which they can do and they go from there.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Persil Telewa.
28 years old, focused, passionate and self driven is the lovely Persil Telewa, hailing from Nairobi County and pursuing the MP seat at Kasarani constituency. Peppered with a light tone, she believes that youth and women should be empowered in the line of development economically, socially and politically. “I want to tackle the issues of unemployment by promoting vocational training, helping champion the youth to start small enterprises and also promote education among the kids in my ward,” She says.
Persil has advanced projects in her constituency that aided and abetted development among the youth and women. She has mentored many girls from all around and helped channel older ladies to their lines of passion. She also initiated the forgotten boy child initiative from the age of 18 – 35 years. “My mantra is, when you see a challenge, that’s an avenue for you to be the change that you want to see, since change begins with you, “she adds.

A formidable lady who stands for truth and also a force to reckon with, Persil knows no limits. She strongly believes in her leadership skills hence the reason why she feels that she is the most qualified to take the MP Mantle in her Kasarani Constituency.
Intimidation and being cowed by fellow male counterparts as a result of declaration of interest in governance issues is not something that is new to her either.  “I do not disqualify the fact that there are men who do appreciate women’s role in leadership.” She asserts that there is need for women to take up position as it is their political right to vie for any political seat in Kenya.

She ends up with a parting shot:  Intimidating a woman is intimidating yourself.

Thursday, 2 March 2017


 So let's talk every student's nightmare.

The job hunt.

Some of us like to study, some of us don’t. Some of us like to party, some of us don’t. Some of us are loyal to our student loan, some of us are not (chuckles) – but one thing we all universally dislike, is looking for a job. We don’t mind working, or earning a living but we mind the process of finding one (also widely known as tarmacking).

In most cases, students in their final year or those through with their course are required to source for at least an internship as a platform to transition into the corporate world which also doubles up as experience most organizations require to employ.

According to recent research, the rate of youth unemployment has risen to 35%. It has been estimated that about 800,000 young people enter the labor market every year.

And yes, internships count there too.

Anything that would practically save your bank account from running low, your house (even just having one) from looking so empty, your stomach from forgetting what a meal at noon feels like or even just that insanely constant strong feeling to punch someone in the face every time they ask “how’s the job search going?” totally counts too.

Anyone else feeling like that 35% should actually be 65%?

Mama told me to always aim for the stars lest I fall. And when I do, in that case, I can always land on the moon.

 I wish it was so with job hunting in our country. But Mama, Most of these ‘nights’ feel dark and foggy and frosty and chilly. No stars, no moon, not even a single firefly in sight. I mean, 800,000 of us enter the labor market, every year, and where does everyone go? 

That’s the question.

In a bid to offer a solution to this hassle I’m going to give an opinion on how more jobs can be created and if not, how we can give ourselves a better shot at finding one.

First, this country could use a 24-hour economy. We are already a middle class economy, so why not?  That would mean instead of working 8-9hrs a day and closing business for the other 15hrs or so, Kenyans would be operating throughout for a particular of number of days in a week. Two of us alternating in one job a day would mean more input in terms of human resource and hopefully more productivity. I mean, how many times do organizations lose business or delay productivity because they strictly close at 4pm?  Where it can be done, it’s totally worth a try.

In a country where public offices and amenities are known to be so lethargic and complacent because, no offense, 

people have been working in them my whole life - could it be the right time to introduce young blood in? I know of so many government offices that you would find ladies, no offense, filing their nails at 11am, just an hour after reporting to work. Reason being, the snail pace of the public system has their department dragging on too. Do we need a reshuffle? We have so many young people, with great ideas, leaving school and aiming for the private sector which is also as dynamic as the graduates come. Would that be of help to the public sector too? 

This doesn’t leave the private sector that is sometimes known to also be very choosy and picky, unscathed. Empower the youth, empower the Nation!

Having a Form Four certificate or a degree should not be the standard of life. Young people are out here helpless. Powerfully gifted, beautifully talented and amazingly skilled. How? Don’t ask. We are magic like that. Magical, but helpless.

I’m just saying there’s a reason why I might have been poor in chemistry but very good in basketball. Give me a lab and I will never deliver, put me on a court and I will win you a championship. We should be in a system that looks out for these skills in young people, and gives them the opportunity to build something from them. To do their magic. Again it goes back to how our system as a Nation .

Young people, we have a responsibility. To push on. To keep hunting and gathering what we can then push on all over again. Find something to do and do it. Believe in it then show it off. Yes, do it and put it out there for everyone to see. Trust me (and I say this from experience), you are exactly who and what someone is looking for.  Use your social media accounts to promote what builds you; what empowers you, what you do. 

If you are good at writing, start a blog and share it around. If you are an artist, put up the pictures on your Facebook page. Same goes for sports - have someone take clips of your strongest skill and make it viral. Pretty awesome in the kitchen? Share your recipes or start a YouTube channel. Every employer we dream about is now on Twitter. Tweet or DM them something about their brand. Participate in their conversations. Everybody is someone and everyone has something. And someone out there is looking just for that.

We’ve all heard of placement opportunities. Corporate companies are staffing through agents. We can find their contacts and give them our CVs and get put up on their database for potential employers. You never know when that one phone call will come through.
And when we’ve covered our bases by doing what we can, we can always come back and vent some more. I believe the legislature has power to change this situation for us. And we will not shy away from talking about it.

Just because we are magic, does not mean we’re not real.

Monday, 13 February 2017


How ‘Bling Bling’ Will Get You Arrested in Kenya
First of all, a Genius of the Year Award to whoever said Pizza makes everything better.
I mean political conversations are hectic.
Whether it’s a political chat, a debate, a confrontation, or a rally. As long as it is politics, bet your house it’s hectic.

Well, only until you throw in the ‘magic word’
Ladies and Gentlemen, a standing ovation for whoever invented it (history is yet to decide who that will be)
Last week Terrific Tuesday Pizza showed up and showed out. Instead of enduring a hectic political anything, we basically went right into it and effortlessly held the honorable members accountable for every single issue that was brought up.

Honestly, initially I thought it would be a bit hard having the conversation. Politics are known to be not just hectic, but dirty too. And young people, let’s just say we could do with a few lessons on emotional intelligence especially when it comes to our leaders.
As the pizza hit home, the microphone went round the room. Questions were raised, answers were passed back.
It was beautiful to realize that the young people in Kenya are concerned about our Film Industry. So much support has been put behind Nollywood (you’re welcome Nigeria) by Kenyans that sometimes you’d think you’re hanging out somewhere in Lagos rather than Nairobi.

It was pleasant to hear Hon. Johnson Sakaja encourage the young people to claim their space in national leadership. To identify what they are good in and believe in it and invest in it and polish it up and push it forward diligently and never stop ‘till they drop! Coming from a young man that started his political journey as a campaign driver for the 3rd President of Kenya and now has the 4th President’s ear, you bet I personally tattooed those words in my conscious.
Nominated Senator Hon. Martha Wangari didn’t let us down with her wit and eloquence. She not only answered every question that flew her way but also dished out her opinion on the other questions and took a break to give words of wisdom to the young folk. She encouraged us to get involved in legislative bills because she strongly believed the future is in our hands already.

Pizza Inn Ngong Road was an idealvenue, graced by  Hon Ken Okoth, MP Kibra Constituency, a performer that many young people admire for articulating youth agendas( including urging us to not only eat the pizza but take a voters card) and a good manager of Kibra’s CDF fund with diligence. One would wonder why someone would want to deny youth such a good leader. Wait a minute, who would think one question among many would take the temperature of the room a scale higher?
I didn’t see it coming either but it did.
The question on the victimization of the youth by police officers.
The young folk stated clearly that it’s wrong and unjust to institute severe punishment measures for petty crimes. Theyposed, “how can one be arrested for loitering in their own country” or dressing like a young person because they are young (doesn’t make sense, right?)

While Honorable members acknowledged there’s no such thing as loitering with intent to commit crime (much to our satisfaction), Hon. Sakaja was also quick to point out the cost of wearing certain outfits like ‘bling’ that are associated with gangs. Police officers will naturally pick up on hints, whichever hints, to eradicate crime. Sometimes it will involve a futile chase, sometimes a night in the cell for mistaken identity, sometimes a bullet may be faster than the negotiations.
Let’s just say in a country where the levels of crime perpetrated by youth are alarming and disturbing, you really want to be on the safe side. It’s just bling.
The most exciting experience though, was watching technology do what it does best, take us to those far from us and that was so evident when our hash tag #AskMeAnything was the number one trending topic on Twitter, bringing more people into the room than we had imagined.
 Generally the conversation was involving, clear and vision-driven because the aim of all of us was and still is to make and see a better country for all generations; past, present and future. 

And that was well put by the talented Holy Dave in a Spoken Word performance at the end.
So cliques and clicks, selfies and more selfies and it was great ending to a great beginning.
I saw the power and strength and the unity that flows through when everyone is given a safe place to process and express what they feel about a particular issue. It doesn’t matter which side of the court you’re playing.
In the end we are on the same team and that is living out the vision we have for this great nation.
So, to everyone that played for #TeamKenya, thanks.
And thanks again pizza, for doing what you do best, making everything better.
Long live Kenya.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016


Donald Trump after his victory speech.

Someone once said, "expect the unexpected. A personality who brands himself as a racist, misogynist, and a sexist, is now fortified to be the 45th president of the free world, USA. Many right now would argue that US is not so free anymore.

Donald Trump during the primaries.

Donald Trump it is!
A president known to have character defects and one who champions positions viewed as offensive to many,of course no one could take him seriously in this day and age, but guess what, our worst fears have been confirmed.
The mainstream media around the world called him a clown, other movers and shakers called him the biggest joke of the year, hence there was no need to give him an ear. The media message was: Donald Trump cannot win,Clinton represents the America that we need.

As projected by the media

Well, all that was turned upside down, call it a slap in the face. Larry King revealed that Donald Trump had told him that he wanted to run for presidency, since 1980. Well 2016 was set to be his year to battle against all odds.
For the first time in history, the mainstream media, political establishment, wall street and the polls projections couldn't be more inaccurate and wrong. The Clinton propagators seemed to be thriving on wishful thinking and were completely disconnected from the reality that was happening on the ground. It seems that the american people misled the pollsters by either giving them incorrect information about who is the more popular candidate. It's also clear that the political establishment is disconnected to the electorate's thoughts and feelings.

The polls Trump / Clinton
A lot of questions remain as this upset has come to pass, not to mention that the stock market has been behaving in an interesting way since the announcement of Trump's triumph.

Americans are angry. This vote demonstrates anger against the elite and the establishment and people are tired of it. Donald Trump will go down in history as the most controversial and flamboyant president in history.
Now you must be asking the million dollar question, why on earth did the american electorate vote for this so called "sociopath" ? Well according to his supporters, during his campaigns, he would voice the thoughts of many the Americans of which they would not voice out in public.

The Trump supporters

51% of the american voters supported the rhetoric of Muslim ban. He also appealed to the voters because of the way he spoke - he talked of issues that people talk about in the privacy of their homes. He is known to hate political correctness of which the Obama administration stood for in the last 8 years.According to the Breibart Website, he is known to "make the unsayable sayable."

Donald Trump also influenced most of the american people by leveraging more on social media. Since the mainstream media had decided to brand him as an 'inappropriate presidential candidate' he chose to communicate directly to the people and tried to navigate his message around the media, though it was not easy.

As much as he appealed to his supporters, Trump was a magnet for racism, misogyny and he managed to front his rhetoric.He struck a cord, hit a nerve with many of electorate who seem to be rubbed off the wrong way.
Clinton and Trump face off
The Russian media fell in love with Trump simply because for once, they had someone who wanted to create a relationship with them, not declare hate upon them, not like Hillary who was anti-russia.

Hillary did not deliver her concession speech as it's customary of a candidate who has lost the election.

Well, what can i say?This is a historic political earthquake and Donald Trump is now in to shake things up.
Despite being unpopular with the media, wall street, Hollywood  and donors, he managed to confound pollsters at every turn.

Clearly this has been the most divisive campaign in history and as they say, things will never be the same again.

Thursday, 3 November 2016


A young woman vied for a political seat in the last year’s general elections. Possessed with zeal and passion to go after what she wanted, she knew that the road ahead would be plagued with nothing but challenges of intimidation by the male opponents, insults, not to mention, to the very point of extreme, physical violence. This did not deter her though, for she had the nerves of steel as she was prepared, armed and ready to take on anyone who tried to put her down. She calls for a meeting to sell her brand and manifestos, only to have someone try to pull down her skirt. 

She postponed the meeting to be held in the next 2 weeks. As a young, unmarried woman, she faced verbal abuse from her male opponents in public. As if that was not enough, She faced harassment and hooliganism at the polling stations. Honestly, someone else would not have gone that far. There are many like her who are pursuing the dream of sitting with policy makers to affect change in the country by averting the status quo, brought in by political heavyweights who have overstayed their term.

The past political leadership in Kenya has been characterized by none other than graft, status quo and tribalism. In the current dispensation, the same crop of political leadership are campaigning on the platform of change, which is outdated since that was what Jubilee government advocated for. Youth and women, who make up the special interest groups have made up their minds that it’s about time that they take the bull by the horns, if they want to see visible and transparent economic development in the country. 

The road to ascension of leadership for the special interest groups has not been easy for it seems to the veterans that these special interest groups need a form of tough and ugly initiation in order to “fit in” or “join the club.”The dominant political parties in the region are making it hard for the special interest groups to engage hence the need for lobby groups to push forth the agenda of increasing participation for the special interest groups in the mainstream parties for effective representation.

Key obstacle that the special interests groups face is the financial bit. The veteran opponents are well moneyed and networked to the grassroots level while the youth and women still have to figure out how to raise millions just to affect their campaign strategies. These special interest groups have been met with violence for expressing their desire to be political representatives. It’s clear that the veteran opponents are ready to outline the battle of supremacy by cowing them into silence lest they be brutally ‘punished.’ 

This experience thereby creates apathy among the youth and women citing that no idle threats were made but a promise to create chaos and confusion during their campaign period. Others have resulted to selling their vote for meager returns due to the pounded ‘status quo’ belief system that youth and women are simply not ready for political leadership, whereas the opposite is true. There’s also lack of motivation among the special interest groups or there are individuals who may have the answers to the ongoing problems plaguing the country in terms of leadership, but they chose not to bat an eyelid.

It’s not exactly front page news that young women (18-27yrs) are not interested in voting, attending political rallies, protesting, blogging or speaking and debating on political issues that affect the country. In young women’s minds, issues to do with politics is mainly associated with men. They don’t want to be seen as loud mouthed or politically incorrect.

The VoteADada initiative courtesy of the Youth agenda, Oxfam and FIDA couldn’t have come at a better time. Its main focus is to address the reluctance of women to put themselves forward as candidates let alone consider a political career. The initiative also vouches for equal representation in positions of leadership. One must be persistent, passionate and possess the nerves of steel if he or she feels the call to a political office hence the need to train aspirants on importance of equal representation and how to wade off or not to be shaken by the challenges that comes with vying for a political position.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016


Women aspirants in the VoteaDada Launch in Kisii.  Photo: Kevin Wabungo

By Kevin Wabungo - AMPRSK

‘Some leaders are born women.” This quote by Geraldine Ferraro resonate greatly with women aspiring for elective positions in Kisii County following the Women in Leadership campaign dubbed VOTEADADA.
The campaign launched on October 13, 2016 attracted over 75 women aspirants in various posts ranging from Deputy Governor, Member of Parliament, Women representative and Member of County Assembly. The group were informed on the areas of personal branding as well as best practice in manifesto formulation.

women aspirants in the VoteaDada launch in Kisii. Photo: Kevin Wabungo
The workshop also served as an avenue for women to highlight some of the challenges they were facing at a peer-to-peer level. Some of these included the financial inability of the candidate to support their campaigns over and above the late entry into the political arena. It was noted that most women contenders ventured into the political realm way too late and at the point where party nominations had already been done. This put them at a great disadvantage despite their popularity with the electorate.

Additionally, there has also been a stereotype among the general public that women are perceived to belong in the kitchen. You may recall the recent utterance by the Nigerian President MuhammaduBuhari with remarks to his wife that, “I don't know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.” Read more here. Such statements are used against women especially during the campaign period that leaves them limping even before the real battle has begun.

training session in the VoteaDada initiative at Kisii. Photo by Kevin Wabungo

Among the challenges highlighted were also self-inflicting. Case in point is where women mistreat their own kind either at work, home or even business premises. Later on they present themselves to these very people as hopefuls for elective positions. More over the lack of understanding of the electoral process is also a major hindrance in bidding for these political posts.

Through the two day workshop the women candidates had their skills sharpened on how best to craft their manifestos with a primary focus on issues facing their constituents and what solutions they intend to offer. More importantly, the aspect of dressing for political rallies and communicating policies was greatly emphasized. 

Young aspirant participates in VoteADada initiative. Photo: Kevin Wabungo

The journey to having more women in elective posts has begun in Kisii County. Youth Agenda will keep you updated via this blog with the most recent happenings on the #VoteADada caravan. 

Kisii women contenders at the VoteADada initiative. Photo: Kevin Wabungo

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