Participation of African Youths in Politics

By Ramson Chidembo

70, 24% of Africans are below the age of 40 and
a third of that figure are holders of university
or college certificates. Thus mother Africa is
wealth of highly literate youths yet she continue to be the poorest continent of
the world. Streets are full of poor
graduates who continue to blame governments for their joblessness.

Opportunities for youth to engage in governance and participate in political and decision-making
processes depend largely on the political, socio-economic, and cultural contexts where social
norms in Africa result in multiple forms of discrimination against youths.
Both formal and informal engagement can be understood as political participation, and both are
beneficial for a vivid and resilient democracy and should be supported. There is strong evidence
that the participation of young people in formal, institutional political processes is relatively low
when compared to older citizens across the globe. This challenge representativeness of political systems leading to disenfranchisement of young people.

One of the reasons why mother Africa remain at infancy stage in terms of development is that our youth continue to distance themselves from politics . The problem of our youths is to think that politics is for the grown-ups , only to lament when the so called grown-ups mess up our present and future. Our present and future is being murdered whilst we are watching because we have been fooled to believe that politics is a dirty game. This is a misinformation.

At its broadest, politics concerns the production,
distribution and use of resources in the course of social
existence. Politics is, in essence, power : the ability to
achieve a desired outcome, through whatever means.
This notion was neatly summed up in the title of Harold
Lasswell‘s book Politics: Who Gets What, When, How?
From this perspective, politics is about diversity and
conflict, but the essential ingredient is the existence of
scarcity: the simple fact that, while human needs and
desires are infinite, the resources available to satisfy them are always limited. Politics can therefore be seen as
a struggle over scarce resources, and power can be seen
as the means through which this struggle is conducted.

The etymology of politics relates to the way in
which decisions are made. In Politics, Aristotle
declared that man is by nature a political animal , by which he meant that it is
only within a political
community that human
beings can live the good
life‘. From this viewpoint, then, politics is an ethical
activity concerned with creating a just society. It
is what Aristotle called the
master science. Its really sad that our youths in Africa were convinced to believe that decision making must be reserved for the elderly whose IQ will be actually going south due to age. Its confirmed that our gerontological governments are not doing us any better.

The majority of our youths are nowhere to be found on issues to do with voting, constitution amendments and especially contesting for public offices. Our youths do not bother themselves with serious issues that affect our daily livelihoods. Our problems as Africans are political hence, behooves for political solutions. Plato said it well that

” those who are too smart to engage in politics risk the _punishment of being governed by the dumper

Unemployment, inflation, corruption and pauperism are all direct outcomes of poor choices we make. Refusing to elect your leadership is not smartness but ignorance at its highest level.

The few youths who think they are politically active will be busy fighting each other on behalf big-profile politicians. Being send to stage a demonstration on behalf of a flamboyant politician is absolutely different from participation in politics. There is a world of differences between political activism and being used to design political event fliers or being a DJ at a political gathering. That is not participation in politics.

Being the dynamic agents of economic and sociopolitical change, the youths remains the engines and game changers in all societal spheres, hence should grab responsibility and do the needful to create the Africa we all want. Its my hope to see African youths driving Africa in one direction, making use of their diversity to come up with brilliant ideas to unite mother Africa.

Its high time the youths must leave the political terraces and become visible on ground. Its either now or never. Its great time for senior citizens to democratically entrust their grandchildren with votes in the ballot. Let us go for their votes fellow youths. Them the madas must bless us with ballot votes this time. This is our time. Loose election to an 85 year granny old first before proposing my sister you young men. And don’t go for her that girl unless she is a decision maker. Fresh blood, fresh legs! Where are the youths when we have entrepreneurial politicians as leaders? Where are the youths when African parliament houses are looking like old people’s homes . I mean_Heads of States_ gatherings must never look like _Elderly nursery homes when we have brilliant young men and women to steer the boat of Africa.

And to the African governments please do the needful. Another drawback is our political environment itself. Its not youth friendly. How can Africa raise when an 80 year old contest for presidency, when all cabinet ministers must be in the 70s and 80s, when the legal laws prohibits youths to contest for presidency. In Zimbabwe you need to be at least 40 years run for presidency. The focus on terms of their engagement in the political arena, is a relatively new in Africa and people under the age of 35 are rarely found in formal political leadership positions. Eligibility for the national parliament starts at 25 years or higher and it is common
practice to refer to politicians as ‘young’ if they are below 35-40 years of age. That’s being anti-youth.

If Africa is to make it to the mountain top, the youths must be democratically allowed to participate in all spheres of leadership structures in the knowledge that age remains a number and the association between age and leadership capabilities is zero . Youth friendly electoral laws and reforms are a requirement in every African nation.

Our youths!
Our societal engines!
Our hope!


UNDP (2012) Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle

UNDP and IPU, (2012) Global Parliamentary Report

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