Shift of generation as young people aka Gen-Z take over Tuesday protest

The Tuesday demonstrations took a twist from the norm as young people sought to be directly involved.

Dubbed ‘Occupy Parliament’, Kenyans took to the streets in Nairobi to protest over proposed high taxation in the Finance Bill, 2024.

The ‘revolution’ began on social media with Kenyans expressing their views and discontentment with the Bill.

The #OccupyParliament gained massive support online, especially from young people colloquially known as Gen Zs who assured their presence.

Generation Z is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha.

Researchers and media use the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as ending birth years.

This basically means majority of the protesters were persons below 30 years of age.

Excited and determined, the young people took to the streets of Nairobi to protest.

Evident by their stylish outfits, they held their phones and water bottles tightly in their hands as they chanted songs.

With their phones held high, they documented every moment that unfolded during the protest.

With fierce determination and modern technology, the young people demanded to be heard.

They recorded themselves participating in the protest and posting on social media saying ‘tuko kwa ground’.

The protesters were helped by those who did not make it to the ground by massively sharing messages, pictures and videos on social media.

In a video making rounds on social media, a young lady is seen confronting police officers who had gathered to arrest her.

She questioned why she was being arrested and minutes later the police officers stopped bothering her.

“Why do you want to arrest me? I’m protesting because someone has to talk,” she was heard saying.

Unlike the previous protests witnessed in the past years where politicians took charge, the Tuesday protest was taken over by young people regardless of their occupation.

Last year around the same time, Opposition chief Raila Odinga called deadly anti-government protests over soaring cost of living, tax hikes and alleged malpractice in the 2022 presidential election.

Though the Opposition coalition Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance directed its MPs to oppose the Finance Bill, 2024, its lawmakers did not participate in the ‘Occupy Parliament’ protests.

The protests are meant to influence and pressurise MPs to vote against the Bill and its proposed taxes which have been perceived as ‘punitive’.

And in stark contrast to protests organised by politicians, Tuesday’s demonstrations were devoid of hooliganism, looting, destruction of property or stone-throwing.

Activist Boniface Mwangi, one of the organisers of Occupy Parliament protests, said it is the civic duty of all citizens to hold their leaders accountable.

One of the protesters, seemingly young, was heard complaining that they had been chased with teargas.

She, however, added that no one was ready to go home just yet.

A group of several female protesters bungled in police trucks continued to demonstrate against the Bill inside the holding cells with song and dance, telling the government they wouldn’t back down.

“Wametuzoea! Wametuzoeaaa! Nani? Serikali, wametuzoeaa! Hatutakubali, hatutakubalii!” they sung.

Narok Senator Ledama Olekina took to social media to applaud those who took part in the demonstrations.

“Respect for Generation Z. Way to go Generation Z we will support you! The revolution will not be televised it will bite hard!” He said in a statement on X.

Ahead of the tabling of the report, Finance Committee chair, Molo MP Kimani KUria informed the country that several contentious clauses had been dropped.

They include proposed VAT on bread, transportation of sugarcane, financial services and foreign exchange transactions, Excise duty on vegetable oil and 2.5 per cent Motor Vehicle Tax.

He later told MPs on ther floor of the House that the remainder of the proposed taxes, including Eco levy on imported goods that are locally produced, is meant to raise an additional Sh302 billion to bolster collections towards the Sh3.34 trillion revenue target for the year.

He asked MPs to consider approving the proposal to push forward the start of the new taxes from September 1, 2024 to August 1, 2024 to enhance the revenue collection.

MPs are set to hold debate on the revised Bill on Wednesday and Thursday with voting expected on Tuesday, June 25.

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