“Strengthening Youth Participation in Democracy in Africa”

Governance in any society is the bane of development. The youths of a country are the future of the country, they are the ones that would take over governance from the present generation, the youths also form the majority of the working population; therefore, if the youths come together to achieve a thing in the society, they would achieve it. Governance in Africa generally has been plagued with so much negativity right from the days of the colonial masters. Democracy was hard-earned by Africa. There have been series of civil wars thereby claiming the lives of several millions of Africans, we have had myriad of military dictatorship characterized by the perpetual subjugation of the masses and the imposition of personal will for individual gain. Also, riots and other forms of social disorder were very common.

Many people bear the opinion that democracy is too expensive and that African countries are not mature enough to adopt democracy as a system of government. It must be admitted that the youths played a major role in the series of negative events that befell Africa; the youths are the ones politicians use to hijack ballot boxes, assassinate opponents and facilitate riots. Nevertheless, the youths are the ones capable of making democracy work by refusing to be pawns in the hands of the politicians and by engaging themselves actively in grassroot politics. When the youths refuse to be pawns in the hands of the politicians, it allows for justice to reign in the society, many credible people have been deprived of their mandate to lead the people because of election rigging which puts power in the wrong hands, these people falsely brought into power ends up mismanaging the government which is meant to cater for the needs of the people, create an optimum standard of living and to improve the quality of life of the citizenry.

When the youths begin to engage in grassroot politics, they begin to “take over” gradually from the corrupt generation and make the changes they want to see by themselves. For the youths to “take over” effectively, there is a need to shun corruption; corruption has eaten deep into the democratic process in Africa, the politicians may want to deceive the youths by exposing them to their stolen wealth and by making empty promises, some may offer to be ‘godfathers’. Godfatherism is one factor that is very common in today’s politics; it is godfatherism that keeps the corrupt generation relevant. The youths must refuse to sell their future cheaply or being brought into the corrupt system because there would be no meaningful change if the corrupt generation passes successfully their corrupt principles; principles that reflects the ideas of the few and neglects the desires of the majority, principles that indicates an underdeveloped political system, principles that states that, ‘African leadership is forever; therefore, I should stay in office for as long as I can’.

In Africa, we find political leaders remain in office for decades. Just to mention a few, presidents like Mouamar Ghaddafi of Libya, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Omar Bongo of Gabon, Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, Mobutu Sese-Seko of Zaire, Idi-Amin Dada of Uganda, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone, Paul Biya of Cameroun and Laurent Gbagabo of Ivory Coast spent many years in office and some mentioned are still in power till this very moment. The corrupt generation passes the belief that political offices are privileges for self-enrichment. Therefore, the youths must stand their ground and display strong integrity, refuse manipulation of any kind, support each other when necessary and engage effectively in politics with the heart to serve the people.


Bolu Michael-Biyi