Reclaiming the narrative: Youth activism in the East African region



Going through education in an institution of higher learning is often a difficult process. For many students who come from disadvantaged families, they have to juggle side jobs (side hustles) in order to survive. Some are forced to skip classes to run errands and on top of that one is expected to pass exams.

When students get worked up about university administration they resort to vandalism and woe unto you if you are caught up by demonstrating students in the streets. The reasons for the demonstrations vary from seemingly simple things such as power black out in the halls of residence to poor administration response to student welfare or draconian legislations out to stifle student activism.The negative activities of a group of students have brought in the stereotype that students   enjoy vandalism or  are stone throwers popularly known as ‘watu wa mawe’ in Swahili.

Students many a times go through their academic period without much engagement with the struggles of marginalised and exempted communities. Their lives are structured in a way that many a times prove monotonous. From one dorms to the lecture halls, to hanging out with friends in the middle of the city (Central Business District) of Nairobi, Kampala and Dar-es-Salaam, to finishing lecturers, Continuous Assessments Tests then wait for exams long holidays and then graduation. This routine prevents many students from coming into contact with the realities of ordinary people. And only get to learn about the struggles of the marginalised either on TV or on newspaper headlines. 

To address the student-community disconnect, Fahamu Africa with support from Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung have been nurturing university students’ activism and leadership through a project namely Your Voice Matters. The project works with university students across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The universities engaged in the project include: University of Nairobi, Makerere University, Kampala International University, Catholic University of Eastern Africa , University of Dar es Salaam, University of Bagamoyo, Kenyatta University. Plans are underway to also collaborate with Technical University of Kenya, Egerton University and Moi University.Through the project, students get to engage in global, regional, national and local forums and this is instrumental in nurturing student activism, advocacy as well as consciousness on various social injustices. 

Pambazuka for more

Comments are closed.