Reminiscent of the French Revolution of 1789, Africa is in the melting pot right now.
There has been a relentless coil of revolutions across the continent since 2011; the latest being the one of Sudan.
What is so peculiar about these revolts, however, is the fact that young people are leading the cause — their obsession being to overhaul the system that they reckon as insensitive to the issues that pertain to their livelihood.
There is an apparent disconnect between the rulers and the ruled; the latter accusing the former of nepotism and cronyism, on top of being senescent, spiritless and out-of-date.
This, consequently, has given rise to a profusion of young politicians across the continent that are not necessarily ideologically well-grounded but seem to understand the plights of their niche.
Asked about his fiscal policy proposals, on NTV, Uganda’s 38-year-old former Presidential-Candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi, on March 7, 2019, was visibly stumped for words–a reaction that instantly went viral on social media.
Yet this did not ever dissuade his supporters. And it is exactly how these revolutionist bandwagons roll. Demagogues unswervingly exploit the naivety of the proletarian masses, pandering to redistribution of the wealth of the affluent and it is music in the ears of their indigent followers.
All this mess, moreover, springs from the inadequacy of African governments to efficaciously tackle the root of the problem which is the increasing inequality between the Rich and the Poor.
To that end, the youth are up to toppling governments, ousting their elder compatriots, apparently to reset the course, akin to Hollywood’s 1984 horror-flick, Children of the Corn.
And it is not as if they (inexperienced youth leaders) can change much either, being so haphazard!
Uganda’s economy, for instance, has grown at an unprecedented average of 6% since 1996.
Bloomberg reports that by 2020, it was 5th of fastest growing economies in the world. Nevertheless, it is still too feeble to provide all public goods and services that can satisfy the modern demands of a population which is 68% still under subsistence farming — pre-capitalist.
On top of that, Africa’s population is spiralling out of control. Half of 42million people in Uganda, for example, is below 18years of age.
At 3% growth rate now, it is darn high, projected to hit 2.5billion by 2050.
This is a stark roller-coaster. Africa’s revenues are simply still too minuscule. They are spread so thin. It is hard to meaningfully invest in creation of jobs. Therefore impossible for citizens to raise capital, let alone rise from the bottom. Advantage hitherto resides exceptionally with the white-collar caste. The disequilibrium is inevitable.
Having said that, if these disparities are not addressed somehow, Africa could soon fall into a deeper slump.
And that could spell recessions, depressions… conflict, terrorism, secessions, abject impoverishment and more influx into European Capitals in search for greener pastures.
Paradoxically, African countries got here by being good adherents of IMF and World Bank, fully liberalizing economies; only now to learn that it was a devil-may-care idea.
For as Capitalism sinks deeper, there is an unsettling mismatch between the haves and the have-nots. And this has an ineluctable ripple effect.
For instance, as Uganda begins to peer into a Middle Income status, the rich are out to monopolize all the factors of production, including grabbing land from peasants. This is not only leaving massive chunks of people homeless and wretched but it is also leveraging the extremists.
With no sense of livelihood, young people become very vulnerable to political cults and criminal organizations like Al-Shabaab.
When I see the predicament that faces my peers, most of whom are not even educated, I get not surprised when insurrectionist tendencies erupt as of November, 2020 in Kampala.
I have looked forward to a time when men and women in government would cease to pursue populist [election-motivated] programs and begin to prioritize investment [in capital goods] and expand the economy.
Being a jack of all trades, I think, is very imprudent. What Africa needs now is a fiercer fight; for transport infrastructure, adequate energy for industrial development, moderate rates of lending, and human capital development.
This will facilitate entrepreneurship and reduce government burden of running welfare programs which are unsatisfying.
Conversely, politicians are always more focused on the next election. Reality is that while the older generation of African leaders continue to cling onto power, they relate more with the struggle against colonialism that used to be. To a larger extent they are not so connected with realities of the fourth industrial revolution.
That said, this should be a matter of ideology as opposed to biology (age). On that, I differ with many rash youth movements that are sweeping the African Continent. For they are idealistic as opposed to pragmatic. And this has only dealt Sudan a blow. Not to mention Zimbabwe and Libya.
A better idea would be to mobilize the youth of Africa to get a grip on their constitutional (civil) rights — voting (and guarding the integrity of the election), demanding service delivery peaceably, minding less of the identity of who wields power but how they would do that vis-a-vis the prevailing interests of the masses.
Our problem is equally the fact that Africa is in great deficit of capable leaders championing the mass line. Away from charlatans and the rabble-rouser brigades, we need a force of leadership now that will help plot the course that we must follow. Otherwise we are prone to replicating the same old bad habits of complacent leaders if we supplant incumbents just for the sake of it.