By NLM Writer
For the discerning Kenyan, it is common knowledge that while all other parts of the country mattered, the election for the two leading contenders would be fought and won in the vote-rich Mt. Kenya region, which, having produced Kenya’s last two presidents back to back, has no candidate in the impending presidential election.
As far as running mates go, Martha Karua is fearless and intelligent. Together with her presidential ticket flag bearer, they have an impressive record as human rights defenders. Their roles in the fight for the second liberation, the struggle of the 80s and 90s against the dictatorial regime of KANU and President Moi, is something to write home about. Ideally, these credentials on a presidential ticket should win an election early in the morning.
The duo has packaged and taken this record to the people in their campaigns, and therein lies the conundrum that may derail their presidential quest.
According to the last population and census results of 2019, Kenya is a country of youth. Of the 47.6 million population, 75 percent, or 35.7 million people, are under 35 years. The youth population of those ranging between 18 and 34 constitutes 29 percent of the general population, about 13.8 people, which makes for a huge constituency given that the total number of registered voters in 2071, according to the IEBC, was about 19.6 million.
A person who is 18 years today and therefore eligible to vote in the August 9 elections was born in 2004, two years into President Kibaki’s regime. Those who are between 24 and 30years today were born between 1990 and 1998 and had not formed cognitive abilities in the period of the second liberation struggle to appreciate the sacrifices made by Raila Odinga and his running mate and many others. They never saw the vintage Moi in his element. They have no clue about the Mwakenya movement and its crackdown, and they wonder how on earth the freedoms of speech and movement that to them are like the free oxygen that we breathe, be stifled.
True, a good number of the youth may appreciate the liberation credentials of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance ticket holders through a reading of history, but they are few and sparse.
The Mt. Kenya youth, born in the late 80s through 90s, were radicalized by their parents following historical issues between the nation’s founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, and Raila Odinga’s father, the doyen of opposition politics, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, to hate Raila Odinga and the Luo people. The youth of the mountain love to hate Raila Odinga. The post-Moi politics, where Raila Odinga’s fallout with President Kibaki resulted in the 2007 post-election violence and the three successive General Elections that brought and sustained Uhuru Kenyatta on the throne, did not help much. They cemented in the Mt. Kenya youth the belief that Raila Odinga is a bad, dangerous human being that should be kept away from the throne.
The liberation struggle message the Azimio duo are flaunting will not count for much in this election, given that it carries no currency with the youth who form a huge demographic in this election. With one month to go, the earlier the Azimio team realizes this, the better. They must come up quickly with a theme strong on economic growth, job creation, public health, security, education, sports, and technological and infrastructural advancements. (