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Shakira Wafula: We Are Not Just Angry, We Are Informed

Shakira Wafula

In the heart of Kenya, amidst the turmoil of political unrest and economic hardships the Financial Bill unleashed, one name carried the day, emerging as a hero in the eyes of many: Shakira Wafula.

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The turning point for Shakira came with the introduction of the Finance Bill. The bill, filled with complex jargon and spanning over 130 pages, posed a significant challenge to understand. Yet, Shakira took it upon herself to research and comprehend its implications.

“When I first saw the Finance Bill 2024, it was overwhelming. But I knew that understanding it was crucial,” she explained while being interviewed by Kenya Online Media. “They want to say that as young people, we don’t know or we don’t understand what is going on. As I’d mentioned earlier, before this with the finance bill.

“It doesn’t take excessive smartness to recognize when something wrong is being done.”

Shakira Wafula

Using the power of the internet and specialized tools like GPT, she broke down the bill’s contents, uncovering the potential impact on the nation’s economy and the livelihood of its citizens.

“I took time for myself to research online using GPT which was created specifically for the Finance Bill. And that is what I used to understand it because when you check the pdf itself it is like 130-something pages and most of it’s it’s is in jargon and unless you’ve done law or you an academic, you don’t immediately understand it,”

“I believe that’s what a lot of young people have done also it doesn’t take excessive smartness to recognize when something wrong is being done, when money is being used in excess, when offices that have not previously been there, are suddenly coming up and they are using all this amount of money instead of the money being used for other things.”

Shakira Wafula, like many young Kenyans, grew up with dreams and aspirations. She pursued her education diligently, with little interest in the political landscape of her country. However, the socio-economic challenges and the increasing political unrest soon caught her attention, forcing her to confront the harsh realities faced by her fellow citizens.

“I wasn’t engaged with the politics, but it’s not, I’m not stupid. We went to school, we are educated and we are able, especially now with the information age and the internet, we research and understand things.” Shakira said.

Armed with knowledge and a burning desire for change, Shakira joined the protests against the Finance Bill. The streets were filled with young people like her, demanding transparency and accountability from their leaders.

However, the peaceful protests soon turned violent as the police responded with brutality, resulting in casualties.

The government’s response, particularly that of the president, has been a point of contention. In a recent roundtable discussion with journalists, the president’s comments lacked empathy and failed to address the real issues plaguing the nation.

This disconnect between the leadership and the citizens has fueled further anger and disillusionment among the populace.

“Not one single time. Since the initial…the first person who died from this protest was Rex. Not one single time has he acknowledged that Rex was a false killing by the police and offered sincere condolences to his friends and family. And now we have up to 39 named and confirmed people who have died and even more assumed to be dead,”

This lack of empathy has led many to question the sincerity and effectiveness of their leaders, further eroding trust in the government.

“And still, the president did not offer any empathy towards their parents and their families. Every time I saw the journalists pushing him to answer what his feelings were towards such a situation and what he would say to the mother of so and so or the family of so and so, he would just say one single statement or like he kept saying, oh, it’s bad, it shouldn’t have happened, but Ksh 2. 4 billion of property was destroyed and this and that was looted. So it seemed to him material issues were more important than the lives of the people he was supposed to be protecting,” Shakira observed.

The younger generation, often dismissed as politically naive, has shown remarkable awareness and engagement. Shakira emphasized that many young people took the time to educate themselves about the Finance Bill and other political issues.

Their participation in protests is not just a reaction but a well-informed stand against corruption and mismanagement.

“We are not just angry; we are informed,” Shakira stated proudly. “We understand the issues and are fighting for what is right. The youth are more politically aware than ever before.”

A significant issue that has fueled the protests is the blatant mismanagement of funds by the government. Shakira and her peers have raised concerns about the excessive spending on non-essential items while critical sectors like healthcare and education suffer.

The call for financial accountability is a central theme in the protests, with citizens demanding a reallocation of funds to more pressing needs.

“There’s the appropriations bill that is now being used instead of the finance bill. It’s not any better. Teachers are not being paid, but MPs, their salaries are being increased. We still have medical interns and doctors who are not employed. They’ve not been posted to any hospitals, but we have the, they are still allocating money for the office of the first lady and the second lady and the wife of the speaker,” Shakira noted with concern.

“Our hospitals are underfunded, our schools lack resources, yet the government spends millions on luxury projects,” Shakira pointed out.

Looking ahead, she calls for leaders who listen, empathize, and work collaboratively with the people. Although she acknowledges the current lack of suitable candidates, she remains hopeful that future leaders will rise to the occasion and lead the nation towards a brighter future.

“A people united can never be defeated. So that is something that keeps motivating me. Even if I reach a point where I question ‘Are we going anywhere or are we really doing something?’ Shakira shared. “I remember we are united as a nation, as a young people of Kenya. And it gives me hope that we are going to conquer at the end of it all.”

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