Democracy: Which Way for the Youth (of Africa)?

Posted on January 11, 2012 by



The following is excerpted from an article, 01/11/2012.

By Caren Wakoli,  a consultant on matters of youth and governance. 

Ms. Wakoli

What is an African youth supposed to perceive of democracy, elections and diversity in a continent where elections mean civil war, pain and suffering, displaced populations, women and children confined to camps of Internally Displaced People forever? A continent where, if a leader does not happen to come from my tribe or religion, he or she is not worth his or her salt. How would you explain, the happenings in my own country Kenya in 2007/2008? How would you explain the post-election crisis in Zimbabwe in the same year and worse off, Cote’ d’ivoire’s tragedy of 2010? One way to explain all these cases of post-election crises in various African countries is simply that African leaders do not know when to say goodbye. They do not appreciate the power of the ballot. . . .

African countries have never bothered to seriously sit and develop home-grown democratic institutions. Unless this is done, we will never witness true democratic institutions emerging in Africa.  The only period in which Africans seriously showed that they preferred to be governed by institutions rooted in their own traditions  was during their fight against colonialism. In rising up against colonial discrimination, marginalization, forced labour, taxation, forced growing of cash crops, forceful removal from ancestral lands and other forms of oppression, Africans demonstrated that they value peace, justice and full participation in governance of their countries.

Africa needs to develop a formula of democracy that enables its citizens to fully and equally participate in all its governance systems. We do not need to copy any foreign system just because it is attractive and trendy. We should strictly filter out foreign ideas and borrow only the ones that serve our values and needs. Dialogue with other civilizations does not mean we should contaminate our African civilizations until we cannot recognize our African values anymore. . . .

After 50 years of various African Countries achieving independence, what do we have to show? We should be tired of the 50 years of zig zag democracies; economic slavery; corruption; economic mismanagement and above all, 50 years of wars and political instability.

I feel the hand of history upon our shoulders.  Opportunities will come knocking, but it will also be wise to know when to answer and not to answer. 2012 is our hope to get out of the mud of dictatorial rule, we must design the way forward, protect our Nationhood and together as young Africans struggle to improve our destiny. Let the African youth be like a movement connected by a single converging interest to chuck out the old and usher in the new. Let us learn the lessons of political courage, to think anew, to be prepared to lead and decide, and take calculated risks. We should really think, not just criticize, analyse and dissect the problems from their first principles, having deconstructed the problems construct the solutions. In 2012, we must begin to take Control of our destiny, and this is how:

(For details of Ms. Wakoli’s vision and her complete article hit this link: