Gerontocracy in African Politics: Youth and the Quest for Political Participation

By the late 1950s and early 1960s most African colonies had attained
independence from British and French rule, resulting in great optimism
regarding the future of the nascent democracies on the continent. A buoyant
populace transformed their memories of harsh political struggles into
images of heroism and confirmed the victory of the national movement for
liberation. There was hope that these new nations would soon steer their
own ships of state and conduct free, fair and regular elections that would be
true reflections of the wishes of the majority of the population. Sadly, what
transpired afterwards was (and still is) far from what had been expected. Civil
unrest and anarchy soon reigned in most African countries as the so-called
‘founding fathers’ considered themselves above the law. In a bid to retain
power, they initiated a system of electoral manipulation and violence that
continues to pervade the continent. More worrisome was the birth of a culture
that excluded Africa’s youth from active participation in politics; this resulted
in the retention of old politicians, evident in a leadership occupied mostly by
septuagenarians and octogenarians. This study examines gerontocracy in
Africa and its impact on the political participation of Africa’s youth.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: Africa, elections, electoral violence, nationalism, nationhood, youth
journal of african elections vol17 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa