I wake up every morning with anticipation, waiting to see how the day will unfold, and what it has in store for me.
The last few weeks weren’t necessarily good, in fact the happenings made me feel small, and that I couldn’t make a difference in the society, as if I have to walk a million miles to achieve my dream, the dream to become the first female president of the republic of Kenya.
To achieve my dream, I had decided to go out to the world and lay a foundation for my already set plan. What I hadn’t realized is that nothing comes easy and that the well set out plan would have to go through a few hiccups in order to just make a single step.
I had previously met an agent of my area Member of Parliament during the August 2017 General elections and seeked his advice on what to do to nurture my political leadership ambitions. He promised to introduce me to the member-of-parliament himself for mentorship purposes but before that, I had to go to his political party to get more information and also to register as a member. He advised me to go to the youth offices of the political party.
On the D-day, I set out very excited and couldn’t wait to sit down in the evening to review the happenings of the day. I started off at the offices of the political party office. When I got there, I first looked like a confused person as I seemingly didn’t fit in that environment. The guards were hesitant to let me in but I eventually convinced them to let me in. I proceeded to the reception desk and asked to be directed to the Youth officer. The receptionist told me to go to the fourth floor.
I was anxious while entering the office but I built up my confidence and walked in. I took a seat and started to explain the nature of my visit to the Youth Officer, I was out to seek information. I explained to him that I initially wanted to run for a youth representative seat in my constituency and that I was very confident that I could immerse a large constituency to vote for me. He smiled. I didn’t understand why he did so but I thought he was very impressed by what I had told him. This built my confidence even further.
He told me that I was in the right place and explained to me the party’s constitution, the membership and the programmes that the party was currently following up on. I was excited because most of the programmes he mentioned were meant to target the youth and women. I asked him to invite me to the next workshop, seminars or summits they would hold concerning the same. He encouraged me to keep my fire burning and to follow up on my dreams.
I left the office feeling better, as if I had made a great stride. On my way home, I realized one thing, I didn’t get the information I had wanted. Instead, I was a member of a political party and had just received a summary of the constitution. I didn’t get the information on my goal, to become the youth representative of my area.
I decided to go to the District Youth Officer. I got lost a few times because many people didn’t and still don’t know that the office existed. When I finally found the office, I was amazed, it was in the furthest corner of the district offices premises and it seemed that no one ever visited the office. In fact, the youth officer even remarked that they usually don’t get people coming to make inquiries and the most visited office was the youth fund office. Basically, what he meant was that a high percentage of the youth were actually not aware about the existence of the office, that there is a law that states that they could elect a person to represent them in the National Youth Council or that there is actually a National Youth Council.
He gave me the background information about the Youth Council and gave me a very interesting point. The Youth Council elections had not been held for the longest time, specifically since 2013. The terms of the elected persons is that, you have to run for a period of three years. After the completion of the term, the candidates could vie for office for a second term and if they had already been in office for two terms they could not run for office again. I asked him whether there was an existent Council and he said yes. I wondered how that was possible since there hadn’t been elections.
I left my contact details with him and asked him to contact me once there was more news on when the next elections would be held.
Thereafter, I headed to town to meet a student leader in my school. He was also a member of the stated political party and had really been resourceful in giving me information. When I got there, the conversation changed. It became more of a social meeting rather than a serious business meeting. He talked about himself all through and asked me why I wanted to venture into the men’s world. He told me I was doomed for failure and that if I wanted to make it in the political arena, I would have to make a lot of ‘friends’ and ‘invest’ in my friendship with him. He had already objectified me and created a stumbling block for me; Sexual favours in exchange for mentorship and networking opportunities.
I declined the proposal and that’s how my communication with the individual ended. I didn’t let this weigh me down and decided to take up a new approach; getting a mentor among the present leaders.
I went back to the agent who had directed me to the political party to follow up on his promise but he told me that the member-of-parliament was not open to offer mentorship to people since he had to concentrate on the job he was elected to do.
I looked up among my friends for contact details of people who could help me out and I got phone numbers and email addresses of some leaders. I sent constant emails, made various phone calls but never got a response. Thereafter, I went on social media and websites of most of the politicians trying to contact them but that wasn’t fruitful either.
As I was not successful in these methods, I asked a friend to add me in a particular youth leadership group which he did. From there, I started getting updates about Youth Leadership trainings. The main problem was, the only postings were about how the trainings were but not links for applications to be part of the trainings. I would ask some of the people in the group about the application processes but I never got a response.
At some point it became frustrating as I saw that most of the doors were shut. Most of the leadership programmes I had applied for didn’t give me hope either as I would not get a response or if I did, they were acknowledgement of receipt of the application.
I have not been able to reach these people but I am hopeful that with time and with my continuous efforts, I will finally reach my destination. I am still applying for youth leadership programmes and am hopeful that eventually I will receive confirmation to attend the trainings.
Article by Esther Wambui
Mentoring and Empowerment Camps Alumni
Group of 2015