Africa is termed a young continent and not just because it has the youngest democracies in the world but Africa’s population is young. The population is vibrant and full of life, our culture is loud and full of music, our fashion and art is colourful but we’re lead by the dullest among us. Africa’s leadership operates to simply obtain power and hold onto it by any means necessary. Why is it that Africa’s best and brightest are lead by the worst? Why is it that there’s no room for the youth in politics on the world’s youngest continent?
What is it about retirement that African leaders fear so much? At 55 Barack Obama had served his 2 terms as President and was retiring from public office but somewhere in Africa 50 year olds are counted as the youth. Why? You often here phrases like, “You’re too young for what you want to do” if you express any desire to venture into politics and this isn’t for 18/19 year olds but people in their late 20s and early 30s. Somehow it has been decided that the youth has nothing to offer in leadership but how can the older folks be our best leaders if they’re past their prime?
Zimbabwe’s average age according to worldometers is 18.7 years but it’s funny that the average age of our parliament is above 50. In fact between 2013 and 2018, the Zimbabwean parliament had less than 5 members under the age of 40 and in fact I believe they were only 2. As things currently stand in 2021 it hasn’t got any better because I think we only have 1 MP under the age of 40 but the bulk of our population is young. How exactly do 50 years olds only speak for a country that is 18? I’m not even 30 but I can barely keep up with what an 18 year old desires and lives like in 2021.
So it’s really simple, they should be space for the youth in politics. In fact more than space, we’re a young continent so the young should dominate the discourse. It shouldn’t be a field dominated by fear and intimidation but diplomacy. We need to focus on discussing solutions instead of shutting down conversations that bring to light the problems we face. And it’s not just a problem of the old guard but the youth ourselves are guilty of letting those who don’t understand us or our future lead us to where we’re going.
Voter apathy is greatest among the youth. And yes our leaders fail us in constantly shouting that elections are rigged and voting doesn’t help because by constantly telling us elections are rigged you’re actively participating in voter suppression. How we change how we word our statements. Everyone must make their vote count because the one day we miss this opportunity and the system isn’t rigged? Others will decide our destiny for another 4/5 years and those are years we won’t get back.
How about the next election together as the youth we come together to make a stand? How about if we decide we’re not voting for anyone over 40? How about we throw our names into the hat by contesting as independent candidates? How about we all register to vote and we show up on the day? How about we change the system? How about we make our voices too loud to ignore?
This is my Day 3 of Advocacy week of the Winter Afro Bloggers Challenge.