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Kenya - Who Will Rescue the Youth From Social Sites, Alcohol? ^ | December 7, 2011 | Muthui Kariuki

Posted on 12/08/2011 4:07:49 PM PST by Kukai

Kenya - Who Will Rescue the Youth From Social Sites, Alcohol?

Muthui Kariuki – Opinion December 7, 2011

The Baby Boomer generation in the United States is the Bill and Hillary Clinton generation, the Americans born in the immediate post-World War II period.

They are now largely retired, although some, like Hillary, still hold some of the most powerful and influential jobs in the world. World War II was followed by a period of prolonged peace, the greatest nation-building and construction boom feats in history, the building of what is still the world's biggest economy and, yes, the Baby Boom.

In Kenya, the Baby Boomer generation also followed a period of war, the Mau Mau State of Emergency, particularly in the years after Independence in 1963. The national trauma of the Mau Mau years throughout the 1950s was followed by a period of joy and an explosion of nation building in which Kenyans were for the first time as a people within a nation among the most hopeful and forward-looking people in the world. The Kenyan economy grew at 7 per cent for a number of years in the 1960s and 70s, at a time when Malaysia, India and other Asian Tigers could not even dream of such a figure.

This period of confidence and growth lasted until about 1980, when the long downward slide of Daniel Moi era started in earnest. Kenyans would not be counted among the world's most hopeful people again until 2002, when Kanu crashed out of power and Mwai Kibaki led Narc into office and the magical 7 per cent economic growth figure was once again registered within our borders in 2006-07.

When Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta received the instruments of Independence from Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's consort (or husband) on December 12, 1963, there were barely 7 million Kenyans. When President Kenyatta passed on in August, 1978, there were almost 15 million Kenyans. At Census 2009, we numbered 40 million to the nearest round figure.

These are phenomenal population growth figures. Our numbers grew by leaps and bounds. But today the Baby Boomers born between 1955 and 1980 are looking on helplessly at their offspring, particularly the Google Generation, and weeping with despair. Kenya's latest generations are lost generations. Their lives are one big round of indulgence in alcohol and their mood-altering substances, they spend hours online doing something called "social networking" and they cannot be bothered to concern themselves with real political and socio-economic issues, to register to vote in large numbers or, having registered, to turn out to vote.

Their religion is the adoration of pathetic posturing pseudos known as "celebs". These are mostly thoroughly talentless "singers", "actors", "actresses", "models", "instrumentalists" and "performers", collectively known as "artistes". Their music is anything but; their acting is a matter of making faces that would upset even a grinning chimpanzee; their painting looks as if it has been done using hosepipes, not brushes and pastels; their instrumentation is entirely keyboard-based, making a mockery of such subtle musical forms as jazz.

If you, as an elder, stray into the places where these generations born after 1980 "socialise", you find them packed in groups of 400 and more, communicating with each other via SMS, Facebook and Twitter even across the space of a table loaded with alcohol and energy drinks (a deadening mixture), because the so-called music is so loud one can barely think.

Ask anyone of this lot at random whether they have ever read any Shakespeare, the Bible, any African Writers' Series great such as Christopher Okigbo, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Grace Ogot or listened to Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, Joseph Kamaru, Bob Marley any classical music, or traditional African music and you might get a nod only for Marley. "What is the shortest sentence in the Bible?" I asked a specimen of these generations the other day, and drew a completely blank look, although she purports to be "born-again".

Undeterred, I offered the clue, "it contains both a noun and pronoun". The frown of total ignorance only got deeper. "Jesus wept," I told her. And so did I, for this generation of Bible thumping but not Bible reading ignoramuses. "Have you ever read any Shakespeare?" I randomly asked another one, this time a young man. "Yes!" came the prompt answer. "What play ... or sonnet?" I persisted. "The Art of War," camMy generation (born mid-1950s) grew up without access to Google, even coming by a book you could call your own did not happen until the very late 1960s. And yet we were ultimately well-read; often we even read for pleasure - I belong to the generation that devoured James Hadley Chase's and Ian Fleming's (creator of James Bond 007) thrillers and also read everything from Chinua Achebe to Meja Mwangi and much, much else. Today, these names ring no bell with Kenyans born after 1980.

My generation is still reading - we have read everything by Barack Obama, we read countless biographies, autobiographies, fiction, drama, poetry. The worst thing about the latest - and the most lost - generations in Kenya is that they are simply not reading anything beyond SMSs, Tweets and "teenie" newspaper pullouts that are 85 per cent high resolution photography and graphics.

This is a huge tragedy and there will be hell to pay for it, as a nation, sooner rather than later. A generation that will not read is a generation of zombies for neither can sustain a rational national discourse; it will never discuss real issues nor register to vote and then vote smart. It may have the numbers, it may comprise the vast majority of the population, but it will live and die without making a positive impact.

Just look at the recent Kitutu Masaba by-election, where Gospel singer Ringtone of Pamela fame garnered a miserable 400 votes, which is surely less than the number of ringtone downloads daily of his hit song Pamela. Where was the much-vaunted "Youth Vote" for Ringtone, a genuinely talented celeb unlike too many of his contemporaries?

This week, the BBC Online reported that American teenagers are driving less than ever before, partly because of the Great Recession and the rising prices of fuel: "American teenagers are taking to the road in fewer numbers than ever before. What's behind this trend and does it mean the end of the car as adolescent status symbol and rite of passage? If Ferris Bueller had a day off now, would he spend it on Facebook?

Recent research suggests many young Americans prefer to spend their money and time chatting to their friends online, as opposed to the more traditional pastime of cruising around in cars". This is an intensely interesting development. Like their Kenyan counterparts, US teenagers are spending a lot of time online. It is my dark suspicion that one set of teenagers is almost certainly spending quality time online while the other is lost in celeb celebration trivia and other such null nonsense.

It is now possible to read almost every important book ever written online, using new technology such as Kindle, including out-of-print-in-Kenya books like James Hadley Chase and Christopher Okigbo's unforgettable war poetry. Yes, even Shakespeare and Sun Tzu (author of The Art of War). Let us hope to high heaven that technologies like Kindle rekindle reading and thoughtful habits for Kenya's lost generations before it is too late.

The Author is a Journalist and Comments on Social Issues.

TOPICS: Miscellaneous; Society

1 posted on 12/08/2011 4:07:56 PM PST by Kukai
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To: Kukai

Scary. But you don’t have to go to Kenya to see it happening.

2 posted on 12/08/2011 6:48:38 PM PST by MoochPooch (I'm a compassionate cynic.)
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