An Open Letter to Africa Voters

Dear Fellow Africans,

It is my prayer that this letter meets you in peace.

Lately, our beautiful continent has been the embodiment of the “Hyena and Hen” theory- a theory for the situation in which power and authority are given to the wrong people with the expectancy of positive results. Looking at things from a certain angle, you are not to blame; as a politician myself, I am aware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing politics and the tricks most politicians play in getting votes.

But let’s face it though and stop this blame game; if there is anyone responsible for our problems, it is us as Africans. We asked hyenas to take care of our chicks and when our chicks go missing, we ten,d to blame the foxes. We support rascals and expect that they will perform like superheroes.

Aren’t we tired of hearing the same message preached repeatedly? We have heard that our continent is rich and that we have vast resources. We have had hundreds of conferences on how to grow our economies. We have seen plans and proposals, so beautifully crafted, yet we are still in poverty, hardship, poor education, poor health care and unspeakable diseases.

This then brings up the question of WHY?

We know what we have but why are we still the same? Well, the answer is obvious. To me, this clearly says our leaders are thieves who are corrupt to their souls and never loved us to begin with. They make deals with the West only to enrich themselves and on top of this, their love for power is harmful to the people of Africa.  However, as I mentioned earlier, we must blame ourselves. The good thing here is that we can fix this mess, there is still hope for our continent.

In order to fix this, I believe that there is a myth that we must eliminate; the myth that older politicians are the best.

In case you did not know, Africa is one of the youngest continents in the world, with the average age being 19 years. The potential of the African continent is so massive that by the end of this century, we will be 39% of the world’s population and have an average age of 45. So with this vibrant energy, why do we think one must be old to lead us?  The average age amongst African president is 78.5 years compared to the 52 years of most of the world’s developed countries, according to a 2015 article that appeared on CNN.  In fact, even with our young population, we are the continent with the least representation of presidents between ages 35-50. Thus, thinking old age somehow brings with it this incomparable tool that will get the work done has not helped us and probably never will.

We are in the age of advanced technologies and loads of energy. Politics today requires hands-on individuals who have knowledgeable affiliations with current society. But we are electing people who are not like us; they do not think in our direction or understand our wants. Our leaders have plans to build two-lane roads across the entire continent when we are seeing other countries using five to six lane roads. We must not forget about the old axiom that says “The age of Methuselah has nothing to do with the Wisdom of Solomon”.

When Bongolo Kenewendo was appointed as the youngest Cabinet minister of Botswana, the young people took social media to another level. We celebrated across the entire continent for such a big victory. Ms. Kenewendo is just one of the millions of young people who are beyond qualified and deserve to be given a chance to lead.

We need passionate people in our offices; people who are desperate to compete and not afraid of pursuing new innovations. We need people with long term goals and ambitions for the continent. A political aspirant in his late 70s will most likely not make a better plan for the future than an aspirant at the age of 35. The reason is simple: the latter is part of the future and will very much be mindful with what plan he makes as it will affect him. Decisively, we must stop just sitting back to complain and start trusting ourselves to be the difference we want to see in our societies. We must fight for the inclusion of young people in government. Enough of selling our ballots on the basis of age; believe it or not, this is the era of US. This is not about the resources and the wealth we have anymore, we know have them it is about putting the right people in authority. My people, let us stop asking hyenas to protect our chickens. Let us give young people a chance with our ballots.

With Hope,

Alplato Chukpue-Padmore

Featured image by mindmeister

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