Over 3000 Shujaaz Fans join the British High Commissioner in our biggest live chat yet to mark International Youth Day

  • 6 Sep 2021

Over 3,000 Shujaaz fans from across Kenya tuned in to a live chat with the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriot, to mark this year’s International Youth Day on 12 August. The Shujaaz Mic Yetu (‘Our Say’) event sparked a powerful online debate about leadership and accountability in government, especially when it comes to how international donor funding is spent.

During the conversation with Mic Yetu host Okoth Opondo, the British High Commissioner responded to a series of messages that had been sent in advance by Shujaaz fans. These messages covered a range of issues from how our leaders can be held accountable for how international donor funding is spent, to sharing ideas for alternate initiatives that would see more donor funding directly given to young people and grassroots communities.

One of the fans contributed by saying, “There’s a lot of money that’s given to the youth or to society, but we don’t get to see the money. Maybe there should be another procedure that should be followed, or the (funding) organisation can meet with the youth directly and help them individually instead of giving the money to the leaders, because the money is given but we cannot see where the money is going.”

Responding to young people’s concerns about whether the UK can partner with them directly through youth groups, the British High Commissioner said, “for the UK, we do quite a lot of direct work with the communities”, pointing out that “lots of our partnerships are on the ground”. On accountability for how the money is spent, she explained, “we do lots of work on governance and governors. We work with them to help them improve their accountability and transparency particularly when it comes to letting contracts out, so that the best, most competitive contract wins.”

Maybe there should be another procedure that should be followed, or the (funding) organisation can meet with the youth directly and help them individually instead of giving the money to the leaders, because the money is given but we cannot see where the money is going.

Shujaaz fans feel strongly about the need for greater accountability and are deeply concerned about reports of corruption in how donor funding is spent. So strong is this feeling amongst youth that we recorded the highest online engagement of all Shujaaz Mic Yetu events so far, with over 1,200 young people actively contributing to the conversation. Our Mic Yetu moderator Okoth Opondo was joined online by two other panelists ─ Victory Mugambi, a communications student at Kenyatta University, and Derick Were, a young community mobiliser in Kibera, Nairobi.

Other topics covered included the UK’s support for vaccination roll-out in Kenya. Panelist Victory was grateful for UK support, saying “the UK government has done their level best to ensure that Kenyans get vaccinated. A very big shout out to the UK government for that.” She also added that we need to prioritise ensuring that the rest of the population that hasn’t yet been reached is able to be vaccinated too.

Another hot topic was the role of young people in the upcoming elections. One of our panelists said, “In terms of accountability, public participation and keeping our leaders in check, that can only be done by voters ─ and, currently, we are the majority of voters. This is the time for us to ensure that we keep our leaders in check in order to build our country.” You can hear more from this generation of engaged youth who are overwhelmingly committed to upholding their democratic rights in our recent Compass ‘Generation Engaged’.

Towards the end of the session, the British High Commissioner reminded our fans that they can demand responsibility and accountability from their leaders through playing an active role in their communities. “The youth have such a large voice that they can demand from their leaders what it is that they want ─ it’s their future and politicians and leaders should be delivering to their agenda across the world.”

This Mic Yetu session was part of our on-going live online event series that is designed to connect our 3 million online fans to their local leaders, to spark vital conversations and elevate the voices of young people. Going forwards, we will be supporting our fans to run more sessions with leadership by creating safe spaces for honest, open engagement between young people and their local representatives.