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It took a while to fall asleep last night because images of the Gen Zs protesting in Nairobi and from across the country kept me awake. My emotions were all over the place, and it’s been like that since last Tuesday. June 18, 19, and 20 have just birthed Mashujaa Week. I have cried tears that have freed the despair that has been planted in my heart and in many others by a system that has collectively beaten us down for years. We had succumbed to a fatalistic bora uhai, it’s never that serious, this is how things are done in Kenya way of living.

We believed that Kenyans would never take to the streets like we did this week. We were reminded that mambo bado yawekezana. The Finance Bill may have gone through the second reading, but there were several victories that we should and must remember. Our Gen Zers have made our ancestors and the country proud.

The revolution was not just televised; it was tweeted and retweeted on X, and we trended globally. This was more than getting likes, shares or garnering followers. It was a week when we didn’t sing Daima Milele but were told, “Amkeni ndugu zetu, Tufanye sote bidii, Nasi tujitoe kwa nguvu, Nchi yetu ya Kenya, Tunayoipenda, Tuwe tayari kuilinda”. This was about serikali tosha, tumechoka kuwaomba, and saying we can’t be pushed down any lower. It was about wanting to still live, dream, build and hope as Kenyans. Kwa mara nyingine tena, we were being pushed into a corner. However, we fought back, with strength and courage but also with kindness, doggedness, creativity, savviness, innovation, humour, music, dance and the determination to change how this country was being run and led. Zakayo was laid bare.

This is the week, Wakenya walirudi kwa streets. Even though most of the demonstrators were of the younger WhatsApp group, the boldness in their hearts took us “analogers” with them huko kwa ground. Weuh, my tears welled up as I watched history being made. The streets of Nairobi, often perceived as cold and heartless, saw shop owners offer safety from batons and boots. Restaurants did the same, even taking it a notch higher by donating food and water. Java love was real. Mosques offered shelter and first aid. Property both public and private wasn’t vandalised. There were no goons nor politicians (you can use those words interchangeably) to steal the limelight. Young women, who already have the scars of misogyny and femicide to deal with, stared ana kwa ana at the cops, reminding us that they are the daughters of Mekatalili, Field Marshal Kirima and Wangari Maathai. Our learned friends were not only offering free legal services but also singing and shouting for the freedom of protesters. We were given a front-seat view of what tireless service looks like, something we have not seen emanate from the National Assembly in years. Meanwhile, on the interwebs, the Finance Bill was translated into local languages, pap! Gen Zers were proving that they were unbwogable and can utilise tech in ways that us Xers and Boomers are yet to fathom.

Rallying calls went out to Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nyeri, Kilifi, Kakamega and Kericho. Even online care for one another was being dispensed. Posts informing about how, where, and when to sprouted overnight. Digital artists showed just how much more we can do with artivism and the turnaround times were redykulassly fast! Rappers were churning out rhymes and, why lie, props to the person who bebad that speaker into the crowd. I was in awe. Kenya was adding to the likes of Rhodes Must Fall, the Arab Spring, Sudanese Revolution and End SARS, just to mention a few. Well, almost. #RejectFinanceBill2024 is now our new offering. We are not just a land of Mpesa, Maasai Mara and marathon runners.

You know, we really shouldn’t be surprised by this generation of change makers. They have grown up with the internet and know that the world is their oyster. They are a lot more self-aware, better educated and can see through the bullshit, hypocrisy and stiltedness of earlier generations. They also know they aren’t perfect and are a lot more open, less judgemental and have not been suppressed by the coloniser, religion, a single-party system, and 8–4–4. They want more for themselves and their future. They know this is their moment.

This week, we witnessed the launch of the upgrade of maandamano and were shown that a great nation is not built on paper or rhetoric but on its people. But more than anything, our Gen Zers showed us that a better future for all of us is just a click away.

PS: Travel well, Rex Kanyeki. You will not be forgotten.