You may be wondering why I am writing a love letter to you all ? Well I do believe in doing things out of the normal, after all we are youth right? So I do believe we are dynamic, we are creative, we are determined and always looking at how we will discover the next best thing to solve a difficult situation or innovation. This is a love letter from me to you! Read that right. A love letter expressing all that I wish someone could express to me so that I can view the world as it is and make it a better place for us all to build, grown and just improve our well-being.
So here goes, I know it has been hard! I know for a very long time you haven’t felt like you belong; be it at home or across the country or within your circle of friends and guess what it is very much okay to feel that way. I felt it too sometimes, well very many times! Growing up, when I was in high school , when I was looking for a job, when I started my own business up until I became a CAS which is who I am today. So feeling that sense of belonging and ownership takes time, sometimes it takes longer that we all expect it to take but hey, it's life! It could be that you just needed someone who was going to help you feel like a you are a part of something even bigger than yourself and well from there you never ask questions you just take it away and just hope it shall get you to a destination where you can stand on your own and say ‘YES I DO FEEL LIKE I BELONG!’
Why am I saying all this dear youth? Well because that place I felt like that I don’t call it my destination but it is definitely a starting point to something bigger than myself, so big that I knew that I couldn’t stay with that knowledge and experience all by myself and that is why for me being Nadia Naddy all the way to a CAS, a state officer and a public servant I have learnt a lot and well truth be told still learning as I keep moving forward. And it is the basic reason as to why I started the Kenya Ni Mimi initiative, to help other Kenyan Youth feel the very same thing and discover the very same thing I have discovered as I still occupy my position while I await my next challenge in my career life. If as a Youth we don’t believe in taking responsibility and ownership of ourselves as Kenyans, take responsibility of going to access information about Government programs and grabbing opportunity where we see them. If we shall not insist on representation even if it is the bare minimum in your own community then we shall have lost the true essence of the Spirit of being a Kenyan.
So really my love letter is to just acknowledge how hard it can get as a young person especially baring in mind the African setup that we tend to grow up in which is oneness, inheritance of responsibilities from the elders, the pressure of being married or marrying at that certain age and just being able to have it all and not being seen as a burden or failure. It truly is hard and that is how we get challenged and psychologically taken advantage of when it comes to issues to do with tribe, politics, community and so on.
As young people we tend not to be given a chance to think individually as,’Me as a Kenyan what truly is my responsibility?’rather we are so accustomed to thinks as,’Me coming from so and so what is my responsibility?’ And that right there is what cripples us my fellow youth, it is what puts us at a disadvantage because we are unable to think as a singular fit rather we start thinking collectively even when we see openly that truly this will lead to a dead end and the results truly won’t be as pleasant as you could think.
So really my love letter is also to accept that we truly haven’t given each other time to listen to ourselves when we are alone and take note of the thoughts that would run through your mind when you are walking to your place once you alight from that matatu or when you have closed office at 6pm and your stomach is rumbling really trying to figure out what am I to eat then, or when you are struggling to write your resume and you ask yourself truly am I tried or is there something I am missing? We just haven’t given ourselves time to hear our thoughts or listen to the rumbles of our stomachs or the hymes in our ears.
That is because we don’t know how to pause, we don’t know how to say stop I am tired, we don’t know how to just look at ourselves and pat ourselves on the back for the good that we have done however little it is or reflected on the bad or mistakes we have made and said tomorrow is a different day. I bet as you are reading this, you are nodding your head and also puzzled as to how, how does she know this or why is she saying all this? It Is a love letter after all isn’t it? And as I write to the youth I am also one of them and I am also writing to myself but at the same time I am recalling a time like this which I have just described, I never had time to listen to myself and that is because I thought I had no time! I mean truly, ‘time waits for no man, but time really is there if you really think about it.’
So really my love letter is to remind you that building a nation starts with build yourself as an individual, I can sing all day and you all can help me sing along and say,’Kenya Ni Mimi, Kenya Ni Wewe, Kenya Ni Sisi Sote!’ but do you truly believe in it? if you feel broken or discouraged by all that you read and all that you see or experienced then would you truly see Kenya as your responsibility having it in mind that you are 1 of the 35Million plus young people who are below the age of 35?
My love letter to the youth is to definitely acknowledge the challenges we face or have ahead of us or within us but it is to also acknowledge that the solution lies within ourselves if we just believe that Kenya is bigger and greater than us and when we are patriotic enough, united enough and peaceful enough we would be able to influence our mindset to be positive and think positively not only to create solutions for ourselves, but to also create solutions that would help others around us to have a better livelihood for themselves and that right their is the sustainability mentality.
My love letter to the youth is to also make us all understand that our government is a facilitator, the key role it plays is to facilitate different measures, different opportunities and create conducive environments for businesses, for youth, for livelihood for the betterment of the nation today, tomorrow and for the future generation. Therefore, as youth we have to inject the inquisitiveness within ourselves and adopt, get information and build on the tailored made opportunities the government has for us young people so that we can also showcase what works, what doesn’t work and how can we enhance the programs to make them better and more efficient for the generations to come.
So my love letter really is to act as a key reminder that the responsibility of us building our nation and boosting it lies within ourselves. Are we patriotic enough to refuse any disruption that would cause stagnant development among the young people as years come by? I believe we are and wise enough to be change makers.
And lastly, my love letter is to remind you that you are Loved, You are Important, You are Valued, You are Acknowledged, You are Trusted and You are known to be the generation that truly believes in the spirit of togetherness because we have all realised, if we don’t grown and see our individual responsibility then truly the generation that follows us has a lot to lose rather than gain.
In this lover letter I want to acknowledge how important our mental health is! We are faced with a lot of adversities, a lot of insightfulness, a lot of trauma, a lot of challenges and a lot of rejection unfortunately but we never pay attention to the effects it has on our minds. We just see them as words or actions done to us but truthfully words dig deeper and affect more than the actions we see beforehand.
So really, I do want us to normalise the conversations on mental health not for us or the generations ahead of us but for those that follow us. We need to normalise not being okay, being tired, having anxiety, having PTSD and all sorts of conditions. It is important because we have a generation that was forced to see suffering in silence as a usual norm, taking up abuse as a sign of strength and always just taking the bullet for your family, neighbour or friends. We need to start healing, growing and nurturing what needs to blossom and start living a life where young people are not scared of being vulnerable because vulnerability is a sigh of strength.
So truly my love letter is to just let you know that as youths our passion lies within our hearts, our determinations are very spiritually inclined with what we want to achieve! We have to own our own narratives and unapologetically own who we are and what we are without fear of being singled out unsure of what would be an outcome. So whoever reads this letter, weather Kenyan, African or beyond the truth of the matter is that the responsibility lies within yourself! own every part of you and own it to the best of your ability, because in all honesty nobody is going to save you unless it is you yourself! And Kenya is all that we have! Kenya Ni Mimi na Africa Ni Sisi Sote.
Happy International Youth's Day 2022.