Times Have Changed

Africa is the youngest continent that is being led by the oldest generals. I love reading about African traditions and stories in general. I believe that they carry so much weight to explain how we are today. I also think that it does not come from me though- my grandfather wrote a book on the traditions of our tribe. It was the first of its kind from the western region of Kenya published in the 60s. So for sure I know this curiosity runs in the family. The other day I was thinking about the Maasai. We may have heard or know of the tribe that to pass onto manhood- a boy as young as 13 years old would have to kill a lion in the past. That was a right of passage from childhood to adulthood.  Every tribe has a different ritual, but one thing remains similar- there is a passage.

Traditionally, there is a step that a young person must take to enter adulthood. That he/ she is prepared for and then trusted with responsibility: A baton is passed. Over the decades, we are progressively moving away from tradition. In some ways such as healthcare it has assisted us greatly to move into medical advancements instead of relying on a local witch-doctor or herbs for treatment. However, when it comes to leading a community have we lost it?

Tanzania's newly elected President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli of Chama cha Mapinduzi has started his first few days strong. Going into office and ready to announce change which is always refreshing for a country. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria was the same entering government with gusto and even as he has been in office for a few months he is constantly asking his people to be determined to change Nigeria. Then we  have heads of states that have stayed in the game way longer.. Yoweri Museveni under National Resistance Movement or Paul Kagame or Robert Mugabe. We have the leaders who have been doing this President thing for decades and by the look of things they are not about to be done just yet.  They will all probably run for another term or two if their bodies allow.

The youngest mentioned is President Magufuli who just turned 56 years old, literally 4 years shy from the (supposedly) standard retirement age in Kenya. With Africa being as youthful as she is, is it the same for the key membership in these political parties? There are several youth in major political parties however when it comes to parliamentary seats and nominations- you hardly see them. Are we passing the baton politically? It is strange, years ago a boy as young as 13 years would be thought to be a man and a man the age of 50 would be a revered grandfather. Now, a man the age of 56 is a young turk- especially in politics, while a boy who is 13 is a helpless child. Times surely have changed.

 About The Author:
Nerima Martha Wako
Nairobi, Kenya
"Currently pursuing my Ph.D. from Euclid University in
Mediation and Conflict Resolution. I am interested in political leadership
in the next few years."

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