Environment, Leadership

How Tapping into the Creativity of Children can Save Us From Current Downturn

In a peri­od marked by Kenya’s com­plex strug­gles, the nar­ra­tive of Ado­ra Kaven­gi Kioli, my 9‑year-old niece who recent­ly assumed the role of pres­i­dent at Bri­ar Rose Junior School, stands as a bea­con of per­son­al achieve­ment and a metaphor for the nation’s resilience and pro­gres­sive mind­set. Her cam­paign, moti­vat­ed by a com­mit­ment to dimin­ish noise at the school’s gath­er­ing area, elim­i­nate any form of bul­ly­ing in the school and to enhance green­ery and envi­ron­men­tal preser­va­tion, under­scores her com­mit­ment to nur­tur­ing a pos­i­tive and endur­ing impact on her school’s atmos­phere. This mile­stone which brings out three issues for me, arrives at a piv­otal moment, align­ing with the nation’s need for fresh, stead­fast solu­tions amidst eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal, and envi­ron­men­tal challenges.

First­ly, fac­ing eco­nom­ic insta­bil­i­ty demands inno­v­a­tive gov­er­nance. How so? Con­sid­er Kenya’s sit­u­a­tion, with a pre­dict­ed 5% GDP growth in 2023 amidst glob­al and domes­tic chal­lenges, includ­ing a youth unem­ploy­ment rate over 20%. Ado­ra’s cam­paign for school pres­i­den­cy per­fect­ly illus­trates this. Despite being in grade five and ini­tial­ly being told the posi­tion was reserved for old­er stu­dents in the upper class­es, mean­ing class sev­en and eight, she cre­ative­ly over­came this bar­ri­er by part­ner­ing with a class sev­en stu­dent Trevor Taya Aliet. How­ev­er, it was­n’t a straight­for­ward jour­ney because her first choice was reject­ed due to gen­der sim­i­lar­i­ty, her sec­ond choice left her for anoth­er can­di­date, and her third choice was banned by parental deci­sion. Ado­ra’s deter­mi­na­tion and abil­i­ty to nav­i­gate these set­backs reflect the inno­v­a­tive lead­er­ship need­ed to address Kenya’s eco­nom­ic challenges.

Sec­ond­ly, amidst polit­i­cal unrest, the integri­ty of Kenya’s gov­er­nance at all lev­els stands as a cru­cial pil­lar for nation­al sta­bil­i­ty. The 2022 Glob­al Peace Index, which posi­tions Kenya at a mod­er­ate lev­el of peace­ful­ness, high­lights ongo­ing polit­i­cal ten­sions that pose risks to devel­op­ment. This scenery frames the sig­nif­i­cance of the fair elec­tion process at Ado­ra’s school which was sur­pris­ing­ly man­aged by IEBC offi­cials and accept­ed by all four pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates. This exem­pli­fies a minia­ture of the trans­par­ent and equi­table gov­er­nance need­ed on a nation­al scale. Ado­ra and her run­ning mate Trevor was ful­ly pre­pared for either out­come of the elec­tion, with speech­es ready to unite or gra­cious­ly con­cede, under­scores a com­mit­ment to uni­ty and the col­lec­tive well-being. Her suc­cess­ful cam­paign, marked by over­com­ing bar­ri­ers and empha­siz­ing inclu­siv­i­ty, serves as a mod­el for the trans­paren­cy and fair­ness cru­cial in mit­i­gat­ing Kenya’s cur­rent polit­i­cal ten­sions and fos­ter­ing progress.

Third­ly, Kenya finds itself at the fore­front of the cli­mate cri­sis, a sit­u­a­tion under­scored by the Unit­ed Nations Envi­ron­ment Pro­gramme, which points out the coun­try’s sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to cli­mate change effects like droughts and flood­ing. The urgency of Ado­ra’s envi­ron­men­tal cam­paign is echoed by warn­ings from the Kenya Mete­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment about increas­ing vari­abil­i­ty in weath­er pat­terns, impact­ing agri­cul­ture, water resources, and exac­er­bat­ing the high cost of liv­ing. Her efforts to advo­cate for tree grow­ing and envi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion at her school high­light the proac­tive approach nec­es­sary to mit­i­gate envi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion and cli­mate change in Kenya. As I have repeat­ed­ly empha­sized, unit­ing our efforts can unlock exten­sive glob­al resources to sup­port our ini­tia­tives and sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve the liveli­hoods of our people.

Cer­tain­ly, Ado­ra and Trevor’s elec­tion to the pres­i­den­cy is a tes­ta­ment to youth­ful deter­mi­na­tion and inno­va­tion, mir­ror­ing Kenya’s chal­lenges with Eco­nom­ic Insta­bil­i­ty, Polit­i­cal Ten­sions and Gov­er­nance, and Envi­ron­men­tal Con­cerns and Cli­mate Change. Their cam­paign against any form of bul­ly­ing, envi­ron­men­tal advo­ca­cy, and adept han­dling of school pol­i­tics show­cas­es the lead­er­ship and ded­i­ca­tion need­ed to tack­le nation­al issues. As I hold their cer­tifi­cate from the school and the IEBC, it rep­re­sents more than a paper, it’s a val­i­da­tion of their roles and a nod to par­tic­i­pa­tion and democ­ra­cy. As we antic­i­pate their inau­gu­ra­tion, it’s a moment to reflect on Jesus’ words, “Let the chil­dren come to me, for the king­dom of heav­en is theirs.” This bib­li­cal invo­ca­tion reminds us of the puri­ty, poten­tial, and promise our youth hold for lead­ing Kenya towards a brighter, sus­tain­able, and thriv­ing future. Aisee, Tuwache ujan­ja! Think green, act green!

 

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Founder and Chair­per­son of Green Africa Foun­da­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion that was found­ed in the year 2000 that cham­pi­ons Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment in Africa.

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