GERONTOCRACY in Africa. A survey on Past and Present African Presidents , and the faults in the lengthy oligarchy.

“It is for the elder man to rule and for the younger to submit”- Plato

African philosophy suggests that an ageing man is in fact also in the best position to rule as sovereign in a well developed society. This philosophy is also significant in Nigeria.
This article seeks to suggest the failing contribution of aged oligarchy in government, contributes to the advocacy for representation of young people and extermination of septuagenarian or octogenarian leaders.

Gerontocracy is a word misrepresented by many. However, western socio- political thought perceives:
Gerontocracy is a political system, a form of oligarchical rule, whereby a small group of elderly individuals are in control of power.

Having surmised to evolve from Greece, Gerontocracy was common in theocratic states and religious organizations such as Saudi Arabia, the Vatican and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in which leadership is concentrated in the hands of religious elders. But gerontocracy (more exclusively oligarchy) is not subjected to only western socio- political views. Gerontocracy is in fact implanted in African roots, flowing in our Nigerian Blood.
President Muhammadu Buhari was elected as Nigeria’s president in 2019
at the age of 77; Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo was also 73 years old at
the time of his election in 2017; Malawi’s president, Peter Mutharika was elected
in 2014 aged 74; South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma was re-elected for a second
term in 2014 aged 70.

Civilization never ended slavery.

Late 1950s and early 1960s, most African colonies had been liberated from the western rule, in a bid to think for themselves and establish their God-given resources to favor their own people. Most African countries set out with great Optimism towards the future, following the exemplary democratic rule favoring the interest of the masses. There was high hope that these new liberated countries that these newly freed nations would soon move in the direction of the state and conduct free, fair and credible elections. Unfortunately, the end was and is indeed different from what was imagined.
One would think that our freedom decades ago meant that by this present generation- the one we are living in right now, we would have a different set of crazy, enthusiastic, positively driven people like our leaders in the past who would walk into any country/State and make us proud.
As ironic as it might seem, even the “not to young to rule” bill signed into law recently, actually doesn’t apply to the young. Why?
In the eventuality of you attaining that position or contesting, there’s a 50% chance you survive in the midst of world class corrupt leaders and politicians trying to hide their footsteps.
I also want to point out that gerontocracy does not only apply to the civilian rule/government, it applies in our relationship, education system and private investments. Where suggestively the opinion of a younger generation is considered insignificant.

Many might want to argue that gerontocracy is and only is a form of government and African society suggests the leaning and clinging to the feet of the elders, I am also pro-wisdom and I understand that these people have stayed smarter long enough. However, I also understand that it’s not how far that counts but how well.
If you can not teach, mentor and allow subtle mistakes in the young. Teach them how to be relentless and live their fathers land. Conscious of your mistakes and your transparency in government. How do expect to continually yield progress.
No matter how long you stay in power, the ability to pass on the knowledge, wisdom of that power is what counts.

Africans are not the only ones who suffered or are suffering from gerontocracy, much of the world’s greatest nations have history. However the difference is that it’s not only the youths fighting back, the adults are giving space.
We can not have life has we want, has majority of us would want. Why? Because a system of electoral manipulation, anarchy and violence reigns among African countries, and the so-called “political fathers” consider themselves above the law, above correction, above equity. This is not right!
Gerontocracy in Africa was never remote, it has been here all along, and we have been breathing it, hearing it, and stepping on its gravel roads on a way to discovering what void we ignored.

There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction- Sir Winston Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965)

was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again at the age 77 from 1951 to 1955.

Information Sources



Thanks for Reading. Please drop your reviews and comments! Do you feel gerontocracy is ideal? Do you feel young people are not ready to lead? Please tell me. I’m definitely interested.

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4 thoughts on “GERONTOCRACY in Africa. A survey on Past and Present African Presidents , and the faults in the lengthy oligarchy.”

  1. Young people can rule .That is what Nigeria and Africa must try to introduce, we need those that can change the whole sector… Our Democratic system is rubbish!
    This is the time young people should start taking responsibility. I love this

  2. While Gerontocracy is not totally a bad thing, we tend to find some youngins who know nothing about Politics and managing a community, a state or even a country. Until more of the younger generation submit themselves to learn and participate in electoral as well as developmental practices, gerontocracy will thrive.

    Great Post Vic ❤

  3. Gerontocracy is one of the problems we have yes but the youth also needs to be reoriented about what true governance and leadership is about. If not, we’d just have the young people taking over but filling the same corrupt shoes that our elders have left.

    Great post.


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