By Michael Woira
There’s something I’m often struck by when I’m able to attend several events including government functions, council meetings at our town hall and several radio talk shows in our area radio stations. I sometimes think that I am one of the youngest people around attending, I always do this because my interest is in submitting comments as a member of the interested public, but I can’t actually vote on the different issues in the house at the end of the day, making me powerless to actually vote on things that affect me, like increases in the various taxes by the town council, mistreatment of taxi drivers by the taxi park operators and many other things that hurt me. I always attend such important sessions because all issues that are discussed are important and as a citizen I always feel like taking an active role in my community, I do that because I want to represent voices that might go otherwise unheard.
Much of the crowd at such meetings, however, include numerous people in their 40s and 50s, but few people in their 20’s like me, and even fewer under 30, let alone teenagers. There aren’t many youth and young adults, and even though I can hardly be classified as ‘young’ at this point, people still take me for a young person who doesn’t add value to anything and this is because us the youth of Uganda have always decided to engage in non-issues than the issues of importance. The age difference between me and the next youngest person is apparently significant enough to merit a second glance and a confused expression. People find it perplexing that a ‘young’ person would be interested in the country affairs — and on more than a few occasions, I’ve been ignored when offering my services or suggestions some calling me a bootlicker because I support what they don’t support and even many old people I normally call my grannies end up calling me all sorts of names and referring to me as someone who knows nothing about the affairs of my country
Many decisions made by councils, Parliament and various municipal agencies have a direct effect on the youth population. Young adults work and pay taxes that play bigger roles in their communities. Some don’t leave in those communities where they are born and raised, but they may return home to visit, maybe planning on returning to reinvest in their communities at some point in their lives. They have an interest in what happens where they live, and that interest should be cultivated and rewarded instead of being thrown out to dry. Moreover, youth often have interesting, thoughtful, innovative ideas because they’re approaching situations from new perspectives. That means they can provide immense value.
I see many youth who can do good things for this country but they are instead being used by politicians to fulfill their selfish interests, I have always felt sorry for some youth at Makerere University who are always arrested because of organizing strikes, these youth can organize strikes on whatever happens in the country, they strike on behalf of everyone and police does not always look at them as vandalize and destroy people’s properties, they are always arrested and their being in prison has never been a solution to anyone’s problem in this country. Can’t these youth involve themselves in politics by contesting rather than joining political strikes and riots in the city? Can’t these opposition leaders mentor these youth with leadership skills than mentoring them with striking skills?
As the youth of this generation, we seriously need to involve ourselves in clean politics, not this politics of blackmail, intrigue, fights, strikes and all in all the politics of propaganda because those we call our mentors like Mandela, Y.K Museveni, Obama, Trump and many others have no records of ever being bad politicians in their youthful years.
Michael Woira is a patriotic Ugandan