Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The mistake that some Malawian politicians made after Barack Obama’s 2008 victory was to look at the triumph in regards to his age. 

This became evident due to the coincidence that we were having our own elections a year later and many people took Obama as their platform of achieving their political ambition.

“Vote for me because I am young”

They really tried to use their age, nothing else, as bait. Though several young people were voted, it still remains a waiting game whether we have had and will see an Obama in any aspect within our political sphere.

As we approach another period of political campaigning for the 2014 Elections others are dusting the same old script.

“I am young so I will make a good President”



I wonder where you get all this misplaced logic.

People are not looking for the “young” in a presidential candidate. People are looking for achievers with appealing track records.

Yes Obama was relatively young in 2008 but that’s not all there is to his CV.

The Obama you imitate is a Harvard graduate and he served as President of the Harvard Law Review.
The Barack you adore was a community organizer and taught law at some prestigious University in Chicago.
BO (not his dog but him) served for three consecutive terms in the Illinois Senate before he set eyes on other bigger engagements.

When he lost bid for the US House of Representatives in 2000, Obama never quit. He stood smart and waited for another chance which came four years later.

If one quits in the middle of anything then Obama is surely not the best comparison.

Obama never quits. (It was only Marijuana he quit smoking long ago)

And there has been talk of following in the footsteps of British Prime Minister, David Cameron aged 46. He too did not win because of his age but performance and astuteness. A first class honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from Oxford, Cameron can surely not be measured on his age alone.

After college he patiently and humbly worked for the Conservative Party in their Research Department and became an adviser to Norman Lamont (a former Chancellor of Exchequer) and Michael Howard (Leader of the party)

Cameron served first before people noticed him.

What about his 7-year stint at Carlton Communications and his defeat in his first go at Parliament in 1997?
Just like Obama, Cameron never quit and four years later he was elected MP.

From there he was moved to the front benches and later on made a name as he was part of the coordination team for the 2005 campaign for the Conservatives.

His party lost the election yes but Cameron’s leadership skills had been well tested. So it was not surprising when in the same year he won the leadership of the party.

One thing is for sure, Cameron rose through the ranks of the party and they recognized him along the way.

Nothing artificial, nothing shrewd, nothing forced.

Do you still doubt that age alone cannot be the barometer? Give me any name of a young President and I will tell you the story behind him or her. 

Don’t you dare mention 38-year old Andrei Rajoelina of Madagascar. His is a story too hard and twisted to comprehend.

From being a young DJ in the clubs of Antananarivo he ventured into events organizing. His turn around came in 2001 when Mark Ravalomanana won the Presidency. Rajoelina being a shrewd young entrepreneur befriended Ravalomanana’s daughter and it is rumoured that the two were having an affair. Within that period he became mayor of the capital, Antananarivo.

As Mayor he went into a professional and political confrontation with Ravalomanana, a crisis that saw the latter losing his Presidency.

The military played a part in the transfer of power from Mark to Andrei in 2009.

Though he messed up the finances as Mayor, Rajoelina would still boast of running a public institution besides his personal enterprises. He is not only young, he is courageous enough to face tough situations including bullets and teargas during his confrontation with Mark.

We can go on and on and on but my humble advice to those who intend to run for the Presidency in Malawi.
Don’t use age alone as your platform. Show us where you are coming from and what you have achieved along the way.

Don’t look at the age of Obama and Cameron, these guys possess traceable and sound credentials and rose through the ranks smoothly.

Take your time to learn from the party about its philosophies and varying dynamics. Don’t allow to be pushed into something you are not ready for. Rise naturally and make meaningful impact.

Malawians are not ready to change nappies of their President. NO.

You might be young but do you have the guts?

Running government is serious business.


  1. Unfortunately, the achievers with a proven track record hardly offer themselves as candidates. Or they run brief-case parties and perenially remain with less than 1% suffrage. Indeed too many of them are satisfied with perching in the gallery and making wise comments, letting second-best options to run the show.

  2. True Martin, but that does not give us the audacity to vote in those without sound track records to run the country. I would rather have a 102 year old man or woman with a good CV run the country than an empty 35 year old. Thanks for commenting and keep reading.

  3. About a week or so ago, I had an argument with a friend over the same issue. Youth alone is no qualification for public office; a proven track record matters more.

  4. You are right Chatonda, we cannot sacrifice the future of our nation on the altar of immature ego. Let us not deny it, the elderly are the pillar of our society because they have lived and seen it all. Let us stay on alert and not give room to ambitions that will take us nowhere. Thanks for commenting, keep reading