Hell hath no fury like Gen Z overtaxed by Zakayo

Protestors protesting in Nairobi on June 20, 2024, against the Finance Bill 2024. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

I’m not exactly Shakespeare when it comes to quoting myself, but some time ago, I made a bold prediction that the ‘Nakulobotove’ generation would one day run this nation. And lo and behold!, they did it last week, on a fine Tuesday. When Kenyans stormed the streets to protest the punitive Finance Bill, a sizeable number of demonstrators were kids born after Moi had been given the boot.

Old geezers who have seen it all were shocked by their sheer audacity. When the cops arrested them, they kept belting out liberation songs in the police Land Cruiser as if it were their personal karaoke booth. And when they got to the police station, instead of dialing their lawyers, they asked for a chat with the OCS. If that’s not guts, I don’t know what is. This generation has often been labeled lazy and entitled. We older ‘bazus’ see them as spoiled brats. And when they speak up about issues, we meet them with an eye roll or a knowing sigh, inwardly saying, “We’ve been there.”

But last Tuesday, these kids proved us wrong. One common complaint is that Gen Z can’t spell. But they proved us wrong! “You forgot to tax the voice in my head,” one banner screamed. “Only weak men raise taxes,” another declared. Who said that Gen Z can’t pun?

In our days, our activism would start when we’d gather at Kamukunji and walk towards the city center, singing “Bado mapambano.” But Gen Z’s activism starts long before they reach the streets, with confrontational engagements happening online. A few days ago, a video circulated of a young man threatening to expose all the dishonorable MPs who have been sleeping around with his lovers (men) if they didn’t bring down the Finance Bill. Word on the street is that this threat largely contributed to the last-minute changes made to the Finance Bill.

The third mark of Gen Z activism was the boldness of their messages. One banner boldly asked, “Mnataka tusinyeshe?” which was a no-holds-barred commentary on the government’s idea to tax sanitary pads. Hell hath no fury like Gen Z overtaxed.

Listen, young people. You are in the right side of history. Your contemporary the famous Greta Thunberg has become the face of the climate change movement. Malala Yousafzai, the girl who couldn’t be silenced by the Taliban, is advocating for girls’ education worldwide. In the digital realm, Emma González champions gun control in the US, while Amanda Gorman uses poetry to inspire social change. These young trailblazers leverage social media to amplify their voices, sparking global conversations and demanding action.

And to all of you budding Malcom X’s who took to the streets in a way that would make Malema proud, kudos! You will be the generation known for the content of your character and not just the content of your Instagram and TikTok. You are the 21st-century versions of Dedan Kimathi, General Mwariama, Mekatili, and Muthoni Nyanjiru—gallant souls who could not be silenced. Viva!



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