Africa is a place where only the leaders can know all – and take all. The culture of the black race does not allow children to put parents on the spot when it comes to pertinent issues bothering their minds. It is generally taboo for any child in Africa to question or talk back at a parent or elder, even when there is a strong need to do so. Any child with such audacity may be prepared to face disownment.
Cultures and traditions throughout Africa give too much room for impunity. This has invariably turned most African leaders to unrepentant despots. Many of them would do anything to prevent fresh hands with better ideas from coming on board so that their dirty secrets would not be exposed. But without the innovation of fresh ideas regularly injected into the polity, Africans’ hope for ‘change’ will remain forlorn.
Africa is blessed with both human and natural resources. But because of bad leadership, the continent remains the poorest and the most backward in the world. University and polytechnic graduates in their millions are roaming the streets without gainful employment. Politicians find it expedient to identify with the masses only when they are soliciting for their votes. They prefer to spend scores of years in office, sometimes even clinging on to power till death.
How I wish African leaders could really look at how democracy is being practised in other developed countries of the world, and see that the height of political attainment is neither by through crooked means nor by sudden flight. In many places outside of Africa, young people are groomed from scratch to learn the ropes of political leadership.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was privileged to watch the inaugural session of the British House of Commons in London. I could not but marvel at the brilliant maiden speech presented by 20-year-old Mhairi Black from Scotand, the youngest MP in the Commons. Her rare display of intellectual capability and political maturity at such a young age drew a thunderous applause from the entire house. And her example is indeed food for thought, especially to politicians in Africa.
The most unfortunate thing is that the continent of Africa is still very much blind to the benefits of youth empowerment and political integration. This is more reason why the much-desired ‘change’ and better governance may remain elusive for a long time to come. How can there be change when the same crop of corrupt, self-centred and passive politicians who have been in power for scores of years are still allowed to decide the affairs of the nation? They are the reason why Africa economy is in comatose. They are the cause of hunger and poverty in the land. The ripple effects of their collective insensitiveness are the series of insurgencies that engulf the continent today.
African leaders must shift away from their ‘sit tight in power’ syndrome and give our youth a chance. It’s the only way that positive change can really be achieved in the continent.
Jide Alowo is a graduate of English language from southwest Nigeria now living in Dundalk