Give us jobs!(THE NEW AGE) (Column)

Author:Odinga, Winnie

While there is a lot of talk about the potential of African youth, finding a job in a saturated market has become next to impossible. We must break this vicious cycle if a catastrophic future is to be avoided.

A few Fridays ago I had a group of my friends over. It was the Friday night after the 14 Riverside terror attack in Nairobi and we wanted a quiet evening in. We were seven young women, all over the age of 25 but under the age of 30. Among us we had a combined seven undergraduate and seven Masters degrees, there were two doctors and an aerospace engineer--but none of us had formal employment. Not for a lack of trying; but I'll come on to the reason for it later in this column.

What struck me as interesting during this particular gathering were the responses to my question, "Yo! Just how easy is it to become a terrorist?" I asked this question because at the time, the faces of the terrorists were plastered across all TV channels and social media sites. One point the Kenyan news belaboured was that the terrorists were not of Somali origin (an unfortunate, widely held stereotype of the terrorist in Kenya) but were actually of Kenyan ethnicity.

This fact was a point of discussion whispered in buses, neighbourhoods, clubs and bars. What's happening to our young people? What we were bearing witness to was a reality that as a continent we need to address. In the past few years we have watched Europe pay dearly for ignoring this growing reality. There is massive radicalisation going on among our young people and it's happening on a larger scale and faster than we think.

Back to the conversation with my friends. "Joining that thing is too easy. People think it just happens in the streets, [but] I can go online right now, find a website and by morning I'll be on a plane to my future," was one response.

"At this point, if I have to go and be rejected at one more interview, I'll have to start thinking outside the box," another quipped sarcastically.

Both points weighed heavily on me but reading between the lines, all I could see was a reality that affects millions of young people on this continent--a dramatic sense of hopelessness so acute that even terrorism seems a viable option.

We have all heard the political rhetoric about how this and that government will deliver jobs. We've accepted that political routine for exactly what it is, a routine.

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