Well, the figures are out and they are significant; 1.7 million of the 6.8 million registered voters in the forthcoming presidential elections will be voting for the very first time.
By exercising their constitutional rights, they will be relinquishing the “child” aura and stepping into the adult arena. That day, they will take ownership and responsibilities for their actions.
With 60 percent of the electorate being youth, this is a formidable force that needs extra attention. The youth are easily swayed and peer pressure is usually the culprit.
Unscrupulous politicians also take advantage of misguided youth to carry out their evil deeds. Rwanda was not spared of that virus as we saw in 1994; the youth spearheaded the killings during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Today, the youth who participated in the Genocide are well into their middle ages, and many today are very troubled and it is not rare to see many mental cases in that age bracket.
They were the product of a corrupt and bankrupt leadership which has been overhauled in the last two decades.
Today our youth are being taught the virtues of patriotism and nation building and they are responding positively. But should we sit on our laurels because of a job well done?
The National Electoral Commission’s work is not yet done. It should hone those values instilled in our youth to see that they are not eroded by poisonous politicians or groups.
The over 4 million young voters should put it in their conscience that the decisions they will make while inside the polling booth will determine the country’s future.