Since history repeats itself, it is no secret that election time in Uganda is marred with violence, brutality and selfishness. Therefore, this election will not be any different-unless we choose to, with not just words but with action. In fact, from the view of events; it will be worse than the previous elections. Those caught up in the scuffle of all this, unfortunately, are the youth, who are the majority of the population in the Country and as usual, most enthusiastic. Youth are always the “green grass” that suffers as political elephants of this country fight.
Many lives of young people have been lost already; some arrested, others crippled, while others will most likely suffer from chronic illnesses for life. This all comes in the name of selecting and electing leaders. Leaders who instead of protecting young people jeopardize their lives-sometimes. If a political contender cannot devise amicable ways of participating in the elections without putting the lives of the supporters at risk, the chances of protecting them after being elected are slim. Violence is a weapon instigated by politicians, not a youth culture: The trick of politicians is violence because it makes news and depicts how strong an opponent’s supporters may be.
In it all, however, youth are the prey. Because youth maybe sometimes disgruntled about traditional systems and processes that may not readily accommodate their views or fatigued with the pressure of life, they are easily lured into violence. Majority of violence scenarios so far have youth at the centre, turned on by those at the game-politicians. In the end, youth are depicted as naive and immature to hold community leadership.
Keep integrity and objectivity at heart: Over the years, youth participation in Uganda’s general elections has been increasing with the current having the highest participation. For almost every three posters pinned, one or two are a youth’s, which is a good sign. Youth are the majority voters and are already wearing logos of their respective parties or candidates, carrying banners, turning political slogans into mantras. Yet, this continuous support election after election is abused. Lies of how youth issues will be prioritised especially unemployment are a vicious cycle that as the youth, we should not fall ears for.
But as political events unfold, it is clear youth have not learned lessons from the past. Contenders who raise their hope and drop them like hot cake are still using them as puppets. Aristotle speaks clearly ‘Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.’ It’s easy to be taken advantage of hoping for a better tomorrow that never comes. While dancing to the tune of those sweet talks to join their camps, don’t throw away integrity and objectivity. With these, it is easy to escape the snare of becoming a politician’s puppet this season. Don’t turn yourself into a dummy: One sure way to nurture loyalty in this campaign season is by cash handouts and bribes. Most politicians sell property, acquire loans or embezzle funds to service voters. They have a tendency of using youth as dummies (demonstrations ground).
Because youth are energetic, strong-willed and easily decisive, they are an easy catch by political contenders with each striving to have as many join their camp. But, you have the ability of differentiating good from bad and don’t turn yourself into a dummy-thing. For by doing this, so you shall be selling your vote, respect and dignity for money, thus selling yourself to slavery.
This election time, therefore calls for wisdom, not just intelligence. Intelligence may not ably differentiate between deceitful or pure schemes harboured in the hearts of men; wisdom does. Wisdom, a gift from the Lord, is what is needed to tell ‘wolf-political-contenders’ from servant leaders then choose the right people.
A criterion for choosing servant leadership is already stipulated for us in a number of chapters in God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Let us tune in to the light of God’s word to avoid regretting our choices later when those elected show their true colours after unmasking off themselves the sheep’s skin which usually happens after elections. This time, however also calls for being objective, maintaining reason above excitement. If you are a youth, keep watch not to be used because everyone is seeking young blood, luring them sometimes with empty promises.
Search for information: The other trick is denying youth information. It is deliberate for politicians to withhold credible information that would inform decisions of youth for fear of their credibility being questioned. Therefore, seek information as much as possible to inform your decisions rather than being brainwashed to avoid regrets.
While discussing leadership and the role of youth, I was caught up in an argument with contenders who despite pretending to be pro-youth did not think their choices and views matter or should be held with high regard and are not a good choice for leadership. The biblical view, however is not about age but formation, it is character over age. A solid character is the litmus test for a good leader. As we choose leaders at various levels this season, let us keep the qualities of 1 Timothy 3:2-7, to “…have an impeccable character…”
God is the giver of wisdom and ultimately provides the benchmark we need in order to rightfully choose the person whom we will follow. Take advice, listen and obey. For, whoever we choose, we give authority to control our lives directly and indirectly. Choosing leaders should therefore not be based on how old one is, but how many of the above qualities they display. It is character over age not age over character.
By Joseline Byakatonda
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