By Stephen Asiimwe
What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it is the fight in the dog — Dwight Eisenhower
Since 1962 Ugandans have elected young people to district councils and Parliament. I am sure the prime minister then, Apollo Milton Obote, Grace Ibingira and others were young men by the time they assumed office.
In 2008, voters made Barack Obama the 44th president of the US. He was 47. His platform was renewal, not age. In 2010 Britain elected David Cameroon 44 as prime minister. His campaign was to improve the livelihood and employment.
On the opposite extreme, Jomo Kenyatta and Mwai Kibaki, Nelson Mandela and Abdoulay Wade reigned over Kenya, South Africa and Senegal respectively well in their sunset years Donald Trump of the US is in the same league. When he assumed office as the 16th president of the US, in March 1861, Abraham Lincoln was 52. He successfully led his country through the American civil war, preserved the Union and ended slavery.
Back in Uganda, much has been said about youth in different political parties, district councils, the private sector and even civil society. The political atmosphere has lately been replete with noises about a generational transition. There was even an attempt at barring those above 75 from governing this country. Disciples of this gospel are mostly in their 40s the same age band as the venerable class of 1960s. But what sets the two apart is what each has done with their youth.
While Ali Kivejinja’s platoon literally laid their lives on the line of the motherland, the Johnies — came lately claiming to fame in their birthdays, where the revolutionary warriors kept impeccable standards of integrity, the new kids on the block have amassed notoriety for dramatic political summersaults, expedience and jingoism. The charade has to stop. Truth be told the youth of this country are involved in all aspects of nations’ life. But youth alone cannot be a platform for leadership.
Age is such a transient phenomenon that to anchor your political philosophy on it is akin to constructing a mansion on quicksand.
The Obama, Mandela examples demonstrate that what matters in leadership is never that year on the birth certificate. It is the vision, the drive, the saying that if you are good enough, you are old enough, is about opening doors of opportunity to the best, age notwithstanding. We must resent hollow posturing that offers this country no transformational value.
In Mark 9:35 Christ teaches that “If anyone desires to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all”. Therefore, young men and women in this country need to utilise this environment to understand Uganda’s socio-economic and political contradictions. There is nothing like “self-made”; we all ride someone’s back somewhere- Even Albert Einstein acknowledges this when he says “a hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and out life depend on the labours of other men living and dead and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received.
The writer is a Pan Africanist and the Kabarole district Resident District Commissioner