Saturday, April 2, 2011


In all civilizations, the successes of that civilization are often buried deep in the ethical/moral/cultural structures of that civilization. And yet at the same time the failures of that civilization are often buried in the very same ethical/moral/cultural structures that give rise to that civilization's successes. Most societies of black Africans are organised along age-lines (or age-sets) with (male) members of a certain age-group seeing each other males as contemporaries. Now, herein lies the problem that befits most African societies: in adulthood, members of a certain age-set (or age-group) are loathe to take counsel, or heed the advice, of their much younger brethren who belong to different age-sets. It's for this reason why you hear that a certain African President in his 80s is refusing to take counsel from a fellow President (whom he considers his "Junior" and might actually be an old man in his 60s).

It's a problem that befuddles politics in my native Zimbabwe. President Mugabe, as we all know, is an old man of 87, and resolutely refuses to take counsel from anyone not of his age-group (that means just about everyone). Minister, Didymus Mutasa is a sprightly old 76. He does acquiesce to the orders of his 87 year old President, but anyone younger than him in age, he rebuts their counsel. So, in other words, you have to be older than 76 to talk sense to our venerable Minister, Didymus Mutasa. In the opposition we have the Liberation War Hero, Dumiso Dabengwa, who's 71. Now, Dabengwa is always at pains (when challenged) to tell us that he's senior to much of the military folk who are always in the Zimbabwean papers. He too, won't take counsel from anyone who is younger than he is, or who was Junior to him during the Liberation Struggle (1966-1979).

So, there it is in a nutshell. We're ruled by a doddering, aged, gerontocracy that (for cultural reasons) is totally incapable of taking counsel or heeding the advice of anyone who is not within their age-group or age-set. That cultural dichotomy has led to a lot of fatal decisions and blunders being made in Zimbabwe, and is partially the result of why we find ourselves in such a sorry state.

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