Martin Luther king once said ‘we must live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools. History reveals to us, that the youth have been key at every step of advancement of human kind. . Young men have been recruited to fight for their peoples, tribes and nations as long as mankind has existed. Great kings used the youth to advance their selfish need to conquer. History also it teaches of great conquerors, like Alexander the great, Napoleon Bonaparte, who conquered the world in their youth. The Mau Mau were young men who led to the independence of our country. Tom Mboya was in his youth when he made great contributions to our country Kenya.
Fast forward to recently, the youth form a significant part of the world’s population, currently the median age of the world is 19.In Kenya, while 51% of voters are the youth only 13% of candidates. It may be the 21st century but not much has changed, the youth are still center stage of everything, great innovation that have revolutionized our Country and world are from the youth, MPESA is an example. Then again they are still being used to advance the agenda of the older generation.
The youth has a big role in peace building and violence prevention in our country. Election violence has ravaged our country so many times in the past that fear arises every time an election is approaching. Kisumu has experienced its share of violence, most recent violent demonstration after contested, parliamentary seat nomination. The mandate of the youth to build peace and prevent violence cannot be overstated as they are both perpetrators and victims of violence.
It is the responsibility of the youth as much as is it of everyone else to build peace. Building peace starts with accepting this and being proactive in this agenda, leaving the back seat and being at the front line. The next step is the refusal to be involved in violence and adopting non-violent approaches to conflict resolution when conflict arises. Non-violent approaches include dialogue, mediation, reconciliation and rehabilitation. This approaches are being used and have been shown to work, applying them to the individual level, so that they are a responsibility of everyone is the next step.
Youth are the center of technology, it is their choice to use this to advance peace. Social media can be used to propagate conflict, but used in the right way conflict transformation can be achieved. I believe it was the goal of young mind like Mark Zuckerbag, the social media was to bring people together rather than divide them. Education is also an important factor in the advancement of peace, it empowers the youth to embrace peace and security giving alternatives to violence while fostering behavior change. Finally the youth should embrace the Ubuntu culture of I am who I am because of who you are, this embrace tolerance and conflict transformation.
By Adams Odero Miranda