(Image courtesy of BBC World)
It’s a Sunday afternoon and I had gone to visit my high school friend in a place called Kanyuambora, Embu county, Mbeere constituency. The sun is up and lots of people are gathering into small Kamukunjis.

Bearing in mind the political atmosphere has heightened, that doesn’t come as a surprise. So Anne picks me up from the stage and we start walking towards their home. She is from a middle class family and the father owns a good portion of land in that area, he is an elder.

We had our usual conversation about our lives and what we had been up to and I was curious as to why her brother was at home. He was branded with the current senator’s t-shirts. My friend’s brother is called Jeremy, a very young influential youth among his peers both at school and his home area. He wasn’t that political until he joined the Embu-Mbeere youth forum where he became a leader.

He got to meet with the political elite of Embu county and networked. He narrated how he joined the campaign team for the Senator. It was a recruitment that was done at the senator’s home in Kanyuambora. The senator would provide them with transport from wherever they were, lunch and accommodation at his home whenever he wanted to see them.

This would mean since they joined the campaign he has been in school only for a week each and every month. He lies to his parents he is in school but they don’t know he is usually a stone throw away from them. To him that wasn’t a loss since he was being paid a good amount of money. They were a group of 20 youth who left school, to campaign for this man to become the next Governor of Embu county in 2017 general election.

Their work involved social media campaigns, hashtags and Facebook posts to popularize the senator for the seat of governor, accompanying the senator wherever he goes and act as goons or cheerleaders and being his mouth piece. This was the package that came with daily/weekly cash from the senator as payment. To him it seemed more fun since he could travel and meet new people along the way.

I asked him if he wasn’t feeling like he was missing out on school and other important matters of his own life like the youth forum he was in charge of, but Jeremy said those didn’t matter. For now, politics was what was life to him. Most importantly making the senator win the gubernatorial race. I was startled.

He didn’t get to tell me of what happens when they are actually on ground or when things go wrong for the senator because I became so curious and asked many questions. Jeremy is an example of a youth who has fallen prey to these politician’s games. They manipulate them with money and get them to do dirty work for them. Jeremy is missing out on his final year as a student.

He is missing out on the volunteer work he used to do, events and modeling, but none of that is happening right now, which means he put a hold on his life for the next 5 months for politics. So what happens after the general elections to such youth is my question. No matter how much you try to lure them out of being used and manipulated by these politicians, it’s a dead end.

This makes me ask, what’s the solution, do we give up on them till the general election or what’s their salvation? Do these youth need salvation?

Niceta Nyaga
Embu County Election Safari Member

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