How Gen Z Demonstrations Are Not About the Finance Bill but a Call for Transformational Change in Kenya

Last week­end, my fam­i­ly treat­ed me to a spe­cial Father’s Day meal in the most serene and tran­quil place I have vis­it­ed in recent times. They took me to Tigo­ni, where I saw three remark­able trees that left a pro­found impres­sion on me. These trees, vary­ing in age and char­ac­ter, told a sto­ry that mir­rors Kenya’s his­tor­i­cal journey—a sto­ry of resilience, trans­for­ma­tion, and hope.

The first tree I encoun­tered was a tow­er­ing 35-year-old PerseaAmer­i­cana (avo­ca­do tree). This tree sym­bol­ized the peri­od from 1963, when Kenya gained inde­pen­dence, to 1992, when it tran­si­tioned to mul­ti­par­ty democ­ra­cy. Like the matur­ing avo­ca­do tree, this approx­i­mate­ly 30-year cycle was a time of growth and change. In 1963, Kenya’s pop­u­la­tion was about 8 mil­lion, with life expectan­cy around 40–50 years, and an agrar­i­an econ­o­my with lim­it­ed edu­ca­tion and infra­struc­ture. Despite polit­i­cal oppres­sion and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges, this era ulti­mate­ly end­ed the one-par­ty state, lay­ing the ground­work for future growth.

A short walk lat­er, I saw two majes­tic Podocar­pus falcatus(Muthengera) trees, or East African yel­low­wood, about 64 years old. These trees rep­re­sent­ed Kenya’s peri­od from 1930 to 1962, a time of colo­nial resis­tance and the fight for inde­pen­dence. Their strong branch­es sym­bol­ized the resilience and deter­mi­na­tion of the Kenyan peo­ple. Dur­ing this era, Kenya’s pop­u­la­tion grew, life expectan­cy improved to around 60 years, and the econ­o­my tran­si­tioned from agrar­i­an to mixed, with sig­nif­i­cant urban­iza­tion and infra­struc­ture devel­op­ment. The yel­low­wood trees embod­ied the strength and per­se­ver­ance of those who fought for the nation’s free­dom and laid its foundation.

Final­ly, we arrived at the Kent­mere Club, where I saw a 150-year-old Mugu­mo tree. This tree sym­bol­ized the cur­rent and future cycle from 1992 to 2022 and beyond, rep­re­sent­ing the promise and poten­tial of Kenya’s youth, par­tic­u­lar­ly Gen Z. In the past three decades, Kenya’s pop­u­la­tion has grown to 54 mil­lion, with 75% under 35. Life expectan­cy has risen to 67 years, and the econ­o­my has diver­si­fied sig­nif­i­cant­ly. The Mugu­mo tree, known for its strength and longevi­ty, mir­rors the inno­v­a­tive and solu­tion-ori­ent­ed mind­set of today’s youth, who are dri­ving a new cycle of change in the nation.

It struck me that Kenya has been oper­at­ing on 30-year cycles that have brought about sig­nif­i­cant trans­for­ma­tion. From gain­ing inde­pen­dence in 1963, tran­si­tion­ing to mul­ti­par­ty democ­ra­cy in 1992, and now wit­ness­ing the rise of Gen Z in 2022, each cycle has marked a piv­otal change in our nation’s his­to­ry. The recent demon­stra­tions by Gen Z are not just about the finance bill but sig­ni­fy the end of one era and the begin­ning of anoth­er. It is a clear mes­sage that the youth are ready to take over lead­er­ship, bring­ing fresh per­spec­tives and inno­v­a­tive solu­tions free from the cor­rup­tion and trib­al­ism that have plagued pre­vi­ous generations.

Gen Z, unlike ear­li­er gen­er­a­tions, is equipped with pow­er­ful tools like arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence through plat­forms like Chat GPT, smart­phones, and the inter­net. They bring inno­v­a­tive solu­tions that tran­scend cor­rup­tion and trib­al­ism match­ing their glob­al peers in admirable endeav­ors. Their fresh per­spec­tive and tech­no­log­i­cal prowess mark a new cycle of change, char­ac­ter­ized by integri­ty, trans­paren­cy, and sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic growth.

Kenya’s jour­ney mir­rors the cycles of trans­for­ma­tion seen in oth­er nations like the Unit­ed States, France, and Rus­sia. Each has expe­ri­enced piv­otal peri­ods of change that shaped their his­to­ries. Our Gen Z’s shift is about redefin­ing lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance. Old­er gen­er­a­tions can adopt Gen Z’s cre­ativ­i­ty for ben­e­fi­cial inter-gen­er­a­tional team­work. In today’s Kenya, there are three groups- the rulers, the oppo­si­tion, and Gen Z, who see the first two as one and the same.

I con­vince us to let’s learn from the three trees. The avo­ca­do sig­ni­fies our demo­c­ra­t­ic jour­ney, the Muthengera our strug­gle for inde­pen­dence, and the Mugu­mo the bright future led by our youth. Togeth­er, they remind us to shape up or ship out, as change is inevitably under­way. ‘Aisee Tuji­pange. Think green, act green!”

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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