Can you ever be too old for politics? Judging by the average age of our leaders, the answer is: probably not.
“The first generation of African leaders, just immediately after independence, was all a bit young,” says William Gumede, who chairs the Democracy Works Foundation in South Africa. “So we have to ask the question: what happened?”
My team did a quick, back-of-the envelope calculation and, as it turns out, African presidents are – on average – in their early 60s.
This would be pretty unremarkable, if it wasn’t for the fact that Africa is actually the youngest continent in the world: more than half of our people are under 25.
And, of course, this gap means many of these young people feel left out from politics.
“The stories we’ve been told over the years, unfortunately, are the stories we now tell ourselves, in that young people don’t have the experience, the longevity of time on this earth to be able to know the solutions,” says Isata Kabia, a former MP and minister in Sierra Leone.
But how easily can mentalities be changed? And is young blood all African politics needs?