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The above question arose when the young and the restless demanded the old guard of African leadership to move over and transfer power to a younger generation, now and now! This was openly aired in the various forums last week during the celebration of the founding of the OAU/AU in Addis. The old guards fought back by posing pertinent questions. Is biology the only determinant to securing power? Unfortunately, neither positions were given sufficient time for proper reflection/articulation. We believe the views expressed by both sides deserve more rational treatment than was allowed by last week’s festive atmosphere. We’ll take up the issue here.
Naturally, the youth of any species is physically virile compared to its older members. By the same token, the female sex of a species is significantly different from that of the male and we thank heaven for that! Last week’s debate, which was not pursued further, boils down to the following: The old guards, particularly the revolutionary genre, were protesting: to demand power by overly leveraging existential identities (youth & sex, also overlapping) is neither adequate nor fair. The old leadership argued, the youth must be convincing in its consensual ideology, (world view) before it brazenly seeks positions of responsibilities, i.e., power! The youth on the other hand seemed not adept in regards to such weighty matters, rather its general interest was just to go on with what can be had, whatever that means. But unexamined life is not something the old guards (some) were willing to settle for, after all, these are individuals who had spent their youth fighting (armed struggle) all sorts of injustices perpetrated by the powerful, domestic or otherwise.
Humanity is unique, mostly because it has history (accumulated knowledge, etc.) This implies, the longer one’s tenure on earth, the more the chance to acquire knowledge and synthesize wisdom. Here the youth doesn’t have much to argue against. Moreover, the current techno impressionable youth is without much where withal when it comes to understanding the prevailing world system and its preponderance on all lives, human or otherwise. The world of printed circuits that gave rise to ICT (Information, Communication Technology), which the youth is infatuated with doesn’t require much knowledge to utilize (understanding is a different story) and this functional simplicity has also imparted an added layer of false self-confidence on the youth’s disposition. This is very pronounced in places where the educated are few and the enlightened even fewer. Such facile conception of reality has left the African youth at the mercy of trumpeters of temporal history, to whom they have unholy reverence. Not surprisingly, the African youth now accepts the polarizing world order wholesale and seems to have no clue as to how to decipher the consequences of the system’s logic; past, present and future! This is where the help of wise elders/leaders should come in handy.
For all practical purpose, today’s youth seems to be alienated from the essentials of life, such as the task of producing food, etc. Frivolous stuff is what preoccupies its mind. Even in Africa where organic life is still the rule, it is the alienated lives of the rich and famous of Wall Street, Hollywood, premier league, etc., that captivates the youth, while the big picture of sustainable coexistence (survival) eludes it. Given suchexcessive dispositions towards trivialities, it is no wonder the old guards are hesitant to let go of power.Besides, there is hardly any human society that is exclusively run by the youth, unless that society is afflicted by instabilities, such as revolution, etc. Our youth’s capacity to investigate reality on the raw is very limited and as a resultit is constantlyexposed to the elements. Our youth is easily goaded to do all sorts of stupid things. Who are the foot soldiers of Africa’s religious extremists? Who are those who succumb to irrational obsessions with football matches, etc., that take place on the other side of the planet? Who are those glued to the stupid box salivating over a life of highly paid degenerate in the entertainment/sport hullabaloo? Overall our youth suffers from a chronic case of delirium caused by excessive exposure to the make believe world of global audio-visual (2D –unreal) stupefaction!
The youth & women can legitimately raise serious issues against the existing global order and by implication against Africa’s unexamined trajectories that are being pushed by the powerful and implemented by the compromised/improvised states.But this is not what our youth are willing to fight against. Thomas Jefferson once said; ‘each generation has to make its own revolution.’ Unfortunately, Africa’s youth, if it is engaged at all, it is in useless ideals derived from half-baked knowledge. If it disengages, it is mostly due to profound zombification. This is our disturbing reality. For example, when the searing experience of the majority of Africa’s youth is something like Beyoncé’s African musical concert or something akin to that, then one cannot feel comfortable abandoning all responsibilities of crucial importance to such undifferentiated youth. The youth’s current gross inadequacy on the ideological front is frighteningly palpable, particularly to those old revolutionaries who have been through the thick and thin of it! On the other hand the youthassumes, legitimately but wrongly; because it has gone through the proper grooming institutions, it can handle matters better than the old guards who probably never did time in the institutions of learning!
Instead of craving for power only for power sake the youth should try to deconstruct the logic of the prevailing unsustainable system and its anti-life trajectories that were put in place by selfish interests of its predecessors, domestic or otherwise. But we don’t see our youth making such serious demands on the existing order. To be fair, the general characterization of the youth above doesn’t necessarily hold true for its better elements, those of leadership material. In a nutshell, this is what our president for Africa’s electrification tried to point out last week. “When it comes to political power the question is not biology, but rather ideology.” Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Good Day!