By Denis Bua (Wizarts Foundation Internee)
Democracy in Uganda involves the participation of youth in electoral positions. over 78% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30. Given the demographics, it is not surprising that several youths have risen to contest for leadership positions.
To raise young people’s voices I also participated, I contested as a candidate for the National Unity Platform party to represent the Kikaaya youth community.
My entire experience is an introduction to a new level of responsibility and service. It has come to my greater understanding that an election is not as it seems. Games and tricks define the entire process.
Many young people are ignorant of electoral information during the electoral process.
There is a big gap between the civic educators and the electorate who have so many times expressed interests in engaging in an election but end up being kicked out because they are ignorant of the process. The biggest fundamental question to ask is, why is information being kept out of the reach of the citizens?
The justification for the participation of the youth in politics is to shift the national discussion on political power, youth empowerment and leadership. The idea that strikes youth is the poor misrepresentation of themselves and their concerns at the national table. The great inspiration and motivation provided by various political leaders like Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu alias Bobi Wine the President of the National Unity Platform party, has ushered in several youths into the political arena.
My involvement in politics was a great platform to learn, be mentored and develop my ability to serve my community. With the social responsibility that leadership comes with, I am learning through holding local meetings, leadership meetings, and strategy discussions.
As it is said, a leader should bear certain principles and characters, to enable them to serve diligently and effectively. I am learning through the experiences, hardships and responsibilities that I face along the way. I believe it is good preparation for effective youth representation.
The benefit of meeting a lot of people and making friends is an achievement in leadership since it widens your social support and guidance network. I must assert that I am meeting a lot of people who are exposing me to different ideas and opportunities in leadership.
There have been a lot of challenges and hindrances to effective youth political participation and amplification of their voices. Although young people have stepped out to engage in political leadership, they still need a lot of mentoring, training, and guidance.
Youth engagement in the political race has failed due to monetisation of the system The challenges in denial of access to electoral information and a platform to build and exercise their political careers get so many youths kicked out of the process.
Moving forward, just like the Constitution states that special needs groups must be allowed to participate in the political space, there is need to ensure that the support for the young people’s political participation defines the electoral cycle. Another core principle is that youth political participation needs to be more meaningful to meet their needs and challenges. Young people have so much to offer to their societies from creativity to new thinking and alternatives.
Their participation in democracy promotes active citizenship, strengthens social responsibility and can enhance democratic processes and institutions.