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Gen Zโ€™s Rising Tide of Discontent: A Wake-Up Call For President Ruto

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The rising tide of discontent among Kenyaโ€™s youngest citizensโ€”Generation Zโ€”should be causing President Ruto sleepless nights.

This generational shift away from traditional political inclinations could challenge established political dynamics. Gen Zโ€™s activism signals broader changes in public opinion and societal attitudes, marked by a willingness to confront long-standing issues head-on.

President Ruto should note that the ongoing protests are not just about immediate grievances; they are about shaping the future of the country. The concerns being raised encompass a wide array of issues, including economic instability, unemployment, and lack of opportunities, which particularly affect the youth.

Furthermore, Kenyaโ€™s political class should recognize that this generation of youth has the potential to significantly influence political outcomes. What we are experiencing today is markedly different from past traditions, where certain areas, especially those aligned with the opposition, were more prone to protesting against the government. This generationโ€™s engagement was evident even in President Rutoโ€™s stronghold, Eldoret, where the entire town was brought to a standstill by protesters dismantling UDA slogans. This indicates that the demonstrations are not merely about political pragmatism but represent a generation determined to change the countryโ€™s course. Youth revolts across the country were staged against the controversial financial bill while also addressing immediate issues and calling for more inclusive and responsive governance.

Youth unemployment also fueled todayโ€™s protests. Unlike older generations, they have little patience for opaque governance and corruption. They demand transparency, social justice, and real reforms. Their use of social media and digital platforms to organize and spread their message has amplified their impact, making it harder for traditional political structures to ignore their demands. They are ready to challenge the status quo and are not afraid to make their voices heard.

Moreover, the protests underscore a broader dissatisfaction with how resources and opportunities are distributed in Kenya. Generation Zโ€™s mobilization reflects a critical demand for a fairer, more equitable society where the government is held accountable, and public resources are managed responsibly. Their resolve indicates a deep-seated desire for meaningful change, which, if unaddressed, could lead to a significant transformation in Kenyaโ€™s political landscape.

Generation Zโ€™s influence is not limited to Kenya; their impact has been felt across Africa. In Nigeria, the #EndSARS movement, led predominantly by young people, brought international attention to police brutality and corruption, resulting in government concessions and ongoing reforms. In Sudan, youth were at the forefront of the protests that eventually led to the overthrow of long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Similarly, in South Africa, the Fees Must Fall movement, driven by students, successfully pressured the government to address higher education funding issues.

These examples illustrate how Generation Z is revolutionizing political landscapes across Africa. Their ability to mobilize, use digital tools for activism, and maintain sustained pressure on governments has shown that they are a formidable force for change. This trend suggests that Kenyan leaders, like their counterparts across the continent, must adapt to this new era of youth activism and address the root causes of their discontent to maintain stability and progress.

The global context of youth activism also underscores a growing interconnectedness among young people, who draw inspiration and strategies from international movements. Whether itโ€™s the climate strikes inspired by Greta Thunberg or the widespread calls for racial justice following the Black Lives Matter movement, Gen Z is characterized by its global awareness and solidarity. This global perspective enhances their ability to advocate for change, making them a significant political force not just within Kenya but in the broader global arena. This interconnectedness and shared sense of purpose among young activists worldwide amplify their influence and make their calls for change more resonant and harder to ignore.

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