Unfortunately, DC offers too many events for me to cover. One event that I missed today (which I would have greatly liked to attend), was a CSIS convocation on “Building Youth-Inclusive Democracies: Lessons from Kenya.” Given the recently concluded election, this couldn’t be more timely. Kenya only knew 2 rulers for its first 40 years; Kenyatta will be inaugurated as the 4th head of state in Kenya’s 50th year of independence.
In general, I believe that a major problem facing African governance is the lack of new (and young) blood, which fuels resentment and discontent with normal channels of representative governance. Some of this, I’m inclined to suggest (in a very apolitically correct fashion) stems from traditional (often hereditary) systems of governance. Africa heads of state tend to be quite elderly and we have seen quite a few die in office in the past years (Malawi, Ghana, Ethiopia, etc). The current leaders of Togo and Gabon both took over following the passing of their fathers who together served for over three quarters of a century and the club of African heads of state who have been in power for over two decades is quite long. It also includes staunch western allies such as Burkina Faso and Chad.
I am not familiar with the USAID funded Yes Youth Can! program in Kenya, but I think it certainly has great potential. I have been to a couple of events with Donald Steinberg (Deputy Administrator at USAID, he’s a great speaker) but I haven’t seen many appearances from the head of USAID’s Africa Bureau, so it is good to see Earl Gast on the agenda here. I know that Obama has taken some flack for his emphasis on engaging youth leaders as a centerpiece of his African engagement, but I think that nevertheless, that angle does address a significant obstacle to good governance.
If anyone reading attended the event, please comment.