This is a movie about some young men struggling in the streets of Nairobi to hustle for their daily bread. A young man left the countryside with high hopes of being an actor. He landed in Machakos Airport to a rude reception of having everything he had dispossessed by the nimble Kenyans; who can spot a ‘foreigner’ from a mile away. Having nothing but the clothes on his back, he finds himself in prison, where he meets his eventual benefactor, a thug by the name Oti. The rest of the movie highlights their life in the dingy outskirts of Nairobi, punctuated by spates of crime as source of livelihood.
I tell this story because it is a moving depiction of one half of Nairobi. Kenya has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the world today, at 65%. Today morning, I came across two bullet-riddled vehicles at the heart of the city center. They had apparently been involved in a bank heist in the wee hours of the morning, when the devil and his accomplices roam our streets. A casualty of the incident was an innocent, who had emerged from a night out; his only crime was resisting a carjacking attempt from the thugs. He met his demise at their hands, which in a strange twist of fate, was what led the long arm of the law to the scene, where they generously sprayed the outlaws with ‘fire’. It comes close to another attack some two days ago on an Mpesa shop by thugs. That brazen attack was captured on CCTV cameras, and is just disturbing. The sheer display of arrogance and ruthlessness is worrying. Let us not even talk about to the moral decadence that hits our screens daily in form of ‘News’.
This brings me back to that statistic of youth unemployment. There is a part of our country, and City, that is thriving tremendously under the recently promulgated constitution. They portray a country that is vibrant, growing and pulsating with energy. The other half is despondent, hopeless and lackluster in their outlook on life. This is the lot that is wrecking havoc on our beautiful city, and country. There is a need to bridge the gap between these two city inhabitants, if we are to have the Metropolis we desire. In branding terms, a country/city image is directly related to the efforts put in implementing values that profess its identity. Nairobi can only claim to be safe when all its constituents feel and experience safety in the hustle and bustle of their lives. We each have an obligation to hold our institutions accountable to their mandate, be it in security, service provision, or even accountability in their use of our hard-earned taxes.
The issue of job creation is a pertinent issue that requires all of us to actively participate in. Entrepreneurial initiatives should be lauded, with polytechnics and youth centers properly living up to their core mandate. Proper implementation of resources disbursed under the Youth and Sports Ministry should go towards improving livelihoods of those it is required to assist. I know this sounds like a pipe dream, but I would rather dream than wallow in the mud of despondence and disillusion. Let us not give up, but strive to improve ourselves, and others, by fighting tooth and nail for what is right, working for the betterment of our city, and nation in general.