By Michael Woira
There is something that often strikes me when I attend some events including government functions, local council meetings at our town hall and radio talk shows on local 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 being deliberated upon, 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 because I want to represent voices that might otherwise go unheard.
Many at such meetings include people in their 40s and 50s, but few in their 20’s like me, and even fewer under 30.
There aren’t many youth and young adults, and even though I can hardly be classified as ‘young’, people still take me for a young person who doesn’t add value to anything and this is because the youth of Uganda have always decided to engage in non-issues.
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 national affairs — and on more than a few occasions, my suggestions have been ignored, with some calling me a bootlicker because I espouse divergent ideas.
It is worth noting that many decisions made by Parliament, local councils and various municipal agencies have a direct effect on the youthful population. But it is also true that young adults work and pay taxes which in turn, help their communities. Some don’t leave in those communities where they are born and raised, but they may return to reinvest in their communities at some point in their lives.
Indeed, 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 and innovative ideas because they’re approaching situations from new perspectives. That means they are of 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; they are always arrested and their being in prison has never been a solution to any problem in this country.
And one wonders whether these youth cannot involve themselves in politics by contesting rather than joining political strikes and riots in the city.
Indeed, as the youth of this generation, we seriously need to involve ourselves in clean politics, not the politics of blackmail, intrigue, fights, strikes and the politics of propaganda because those we call our mentors like Mandela, Museveni, Obama, Trump and many others have no record of ever being bad politicians in their youthful years.