I keep telling myself that the guys who are frantically trying to change the law to bar Prime Minister Raila Odinga from running for president again are kidding. If they were not, when did it occur to them that age is a liability to effective governance? Did you hear any of these guys worry about Moi's age when he repeatedly sought reelection? Did they stay up late to agonize about President Kibaki's age? There's a reason they didn't.
I'm not going to bore you with a chronology of cultural evolution, where African communities placed a high premium on age. Indeed, grayness was equated with wisdom. When adolescent boys were around the elderly folk, they were required to be still and absorb the wisdom that emanated from years of experience...years of watching the world. The elders were supposed to be wise. And they were. Why is that we'd suddenly view such a noble cultural blessing as a liability?
The answer in cynicism.
If these people who are now calling for a change of the laws had a track record of pushing for this change over the years, we'd have taken them seriously. As it is, we have to believe they are doing this only for the sake of blocking an eventual Odinga candidacy. The sad thing about an approach like this is that it's profoundly stupid. It reflects poorly on the people who are for such draconian measures, and it exposes them for the charlatans they are. Do they think politics is an eternal game? At some point they have to realize that once they are elected they carry people's lives in their hands. Children and mothers and struggling fathers look up to them daily, yet they are spending their time scheming how to deny some people a chance to lead.
How outrageous is this!
Common sense should of course dictate that at a certain age a man or a woman is too old to seek the highest office in the land. That age is debatable, so I won't be firm on a figure. I would put it at anywhere between sixty-eight and and seventy-two for anybody seeking a first term. And for the sake of molding a vibrant, working society, it would be wise to engrave an agreed upon age limit in the constitution. That way we'll not be sidetracked by people who never saw a tunnel they didn't want to crawl under.
Indeed, the MPs who are wasting our time with this matter need to be reminded that their constituents are looking to them for development, not perpetual politicking. 2012 is four years away, just imagine how much they could do if they focused their energies on themes that unite the nation and build their constituencies rather than always looking for an angle to score points.
But can a bat start flying in broad daylight?
Some of these guys have no clue what it means to be a representative.
They shame themselves!