Is satellite TV killing African football?

Is satellite TV killing African football?

Accra’s stadium is empty, while football fans watch English games on TV

When satellite television started broadcasting the top leagues of Europe around the world in the mid-1990s, football lovers in Africa must have been unsure whether to laugh or cry.

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To succeed, leagues have to become businesses but very few have grasped this yet”

Gary Rathbone Former head of Africa, SuperSport

On the one hand, they could suddenly watch some of the best club football on the planet – simply by turning on the TV.

At the same time, the realisation must have dawned that the local league they had been watching for years was a sub-standard product to the one found in countries like England, Spain and Italy.

It wasn’t always thus though – for African club football’s heyday came in the 1970s and 1980s when vast crowds, sometimes 100,000 strong, regularly flocked to league games and the leading pan-African club competitions.

By the 1990s, however, the state of Africa’s leagues had become a major worry.

The exodus of players to Europe, which today is a flood, was beginning to become significant, meaning local fans were denied the chance to watch the best talents as they left for greener pastures, while many leagues were also blighted by poor organisation, corruption, chronic infrastructure, low crowds and sometimes a combination of all four.

Newcastle United's Ivorian midfielder, Cheick Tiote (R) vies with Manchester City's Ivorian midfielder, Yaya Toure (L) during an English FA Premier League football match at St James Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, on December 15, 2012. The best African players now play in Europe

European football was most welcome when it arrived, as fans feasted upon the chance to watch legendary clubs like Real Madrid, AC Milan and Manchester United on a regular basis, but the impact on the diminishing local leagues – North Africa aside – has been less well received.

Empty seats

“The advent of satellite TV has certainly taken away the feel people had for the local league – more so when you have the likes of Lionel Messi at your fingertips,” Ghanaian football commentator Karl Tufuoh told BBC Sport. “It’s clear local attendance has been massively affected.”

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Why I support Manchester United

Kabir Ahmed

Kabir Ahmed, Kaduna, Nigeria:

I am a supporter of Manchester United football club. I have been supporting the club for the past 15 years. I like the game they play. I like their style of play, their fighting spirit.

I normally enjoy watching Manchester United matches in a viewing centre with my friends.

It is not that I don’t have a satellite but I hate isolation, I don’t like watching football in isolation. When I am in the viewing centre, watching with my friends and others like Chelsea and Arsenal fans it gives me lots of joy and happiness, shouting, arguing, cracking jokes and all that.

I just don’t have time for local matches now. I used to, way back in 1998-99 when Katsina United was playing but they are no more playing, they are no more in the Nigerian premier league, that’s why I don’t watch local football any more.

I only watch international premier league now, I don’t enjoy the kind of play of local matches, that is the fact. It is not entertaining at all, maybe that is why people don’t watch them frequently. We are used to watching international football now and you know it is a known fact, international football is better than our local football.

Tufuoh was speaking at the Accra Sports Stadium, whose 40,000 red, yellow and green seats were more or less all visible for a league clash between top clubs Liberty Professionals and Asante Kotoko on a recent Sunday.

A few miles down the road, the bar at the Alisa Hotel was overflowing with fans who had come to watch two crunch English Premier League (EPL) clashes.

“Maybe if we had no option, we would have to follow our local league,” said one customer, Kojo. “But if you find something better than the local league, you would watch the better one.”

The situation in Ghana is far from unique – it is played out in countless African cities every weekend.

In fact, the attendances became so insignificant in many African leagues that they have been scheduling domestic kick-offs to avoid the big European matches.

However, there has been a recent reversal in the declining attendances as a previously-unseen factor has entered the market: Satellite television that now broadcasts some of Africa’s leagues.

In 2006, South African broadcaster Supersport started to air matches from both its own league and Nigeria’s on the DSTV network, which is broadcast across the continent for those who can afford it.

Seven years on, SuperSport also owns the rights to games in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Ghana, Angola and Tanzania.

Crowds up in Kenya

While the beneficial impact on some leagues has been questionable, such as in Zambia and Nigeria, one of the stand-out successes has been in Kenya.

Prior to SuperSport’s involvement, the domestic league was riddled by infighting, poor crowds, poor marketing and a chaotic fixture list.

Fans watch football in Mali
Can African fans be persuaded to watch more local football?

The situation is now wholly different, with improved organisation added to the TV money that enables clubs to pay their players both well and regularly, making the league not only more attractive to fans but foreign players too.

“The first season we covered the KPL, you were getting a few hundred people for normal games and a few thousand for the big games,” says Gary Rathbone, former head of Africa for SuperSport.

“Last year, crowds were in their thousands for normal games and 25,000 for the big games. Another massive change was that the league sponsorship had increased from zero to something quite substantial.”

The success of SuperSport’s KPL coverage – which has included the creation of a studio, a weekly magazine programme and the coverage of over 100 live games – has been staggering.

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BBC Africa Debate

Tune in to the BBC World Service at 1900 GMT on Friday 1 February to listen to the BBC Africa Debate – Is satellite TV killing African football? – broadcast from Durban.

Or take part in Twitter – using #bbcafricadebate – Facebook or Google+

Prior to the input, Rathbone estimates that 75% of the Kenyan media’s football coverage was devoted to Europe but he believes that figure is now equal – with perhaps over half sometimes devoted to the KPL.

A survey later revealed that the Advertising Value Equivalent of sponsorship for the KPL – which Rathbone now classifies as a “truly professional league” – amounts to a barely-credible $86m (£55m).

“That’s what happens when you get behind the league and broadcast it and organise it properly,” he says.

In his own South Africa, the TV audiences watching local games are double those of the EPL – even if the advertising revenue for the latter’s games is significantly higher, given the demographic being targeted.

However, slick television production can only take a league so far if it has perceived flaws – as those running Nigerian football have discovered.

Believing that the league is unattractive, amateurishly run and constantly haemorrhages its best players, Nigerian football fans – those backing Kano Pillars aside – have not come out in numbers to attend games.

In Zambia meanwhile, a former FA president says the SuperSport deal means fans now watch local games on TV – not just because they can watch the European games afterwards, but also for more simple reasons.

“In our stadiums, refreshments are not allowed – so why should I go to a stadium to be thirsty for 90 minutes when I can watch at a bar with a big screen?” asks Simataa Simataa.

So when African leagues complain about the impact of the EPL on their attendances, is this simply an excuse for their general laziness and incompetence when it comes to improving their product?

“To succeed, leagues have to become businesses but very few have grasped this yet,” says Rathbone. “They also need to explore other forms of revenue – like advertising and merchandise.”

“If the local leagues are run properly and it’s an interesting standard, the experience is positive and the media is supportive, there is no reason why the EPL and the local league should not live successfully side by side.”


A Kenyan eye clinic with a long vision

A Kenyan eye clinic with a long vision

The eye clinic provides vital treatment to thousands of East Africans

Kenya’s Hurlingham Eye Care Services – a company founded in 2007 by three female doctors – started with small steps but with a long vision.

In the last six years the firm, which opened with just a few patients, has become East Africa’s leading eye clinic and offers a wide range of services, from eye tests to laser surgery.

“Right from the onset our dream was to work in a centre that can be able to provide all types of eye care as a one-stop shop,” one of the founders, Dr Kahaki Kimani, told the BBC’s series African Dream.

“We also wanted to be a centre of excellence and so, when we saw a lot of our people travelling [for treatment] long distances outside the country – to Europe, to South Africa, to India – we felt that probably it was the right time to bring some of these services closer home,” she explained.

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Initially we tried to get many more ophthalmologists to come and invest with us but they were not willing; they thought that the risks were too big”

Dr Kahaki Kimani

Dr Kimani and two other ophthalmologists – Prof Dunera Ilako and Dr Nancy Kiumbura – set the firm in motion with an initial investment of $15,000 (£9,500) which they borrowed from a friend, an eye doctor who lives in Germany and who has given them a lot of additional support, including training.

The three Kenyan ophthalmologists first established a series of optical shops through which they could offer eye tests and glasses to their patients.

Later they decided to set up a centre with state-of-the-art technology that would enable them to provide laser surgery and other specialised treatment, and for this they needed additional funding.

“Initially we tried to get many more ophthalmologists to come and invest with us but they were not willing; they thought that the risks were too big. Family thought we were nuts, colleagues thought we were crazy.

“I mean, how do you raise this kind of money and how ever will you pay it back?”

Private backing

After approaching several of Kenya’s main banks in vain, they entered into a partnership with a private equity firm, Jacana Partners, which invests in entrepreneurs and small-to-medium sized enterprises.

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Hurlingham Eye Care Services

Dr. Kahaki Kimani (left) and a patient
  • Started in 2007
  • Location: Nairobi, Kenya
  • Co-founders: Dr Kahaki Kimani (left), Prof Dunera Ilako and Dr Nancy Kiumbura
  • Starting capital: $15,000
  • Opened Eagle Eye Laser & Diagnostic Centre in 2010
  • Employees: 30
  • Annual turnover: $1m

With its backing, they started the Eagle Eye Laser & Diagnostic Centre in 2010.

At the moment, Hurlingham Eye Care Services (HECS) has 30 employees and an annual turnover of around $1m.

“If someone needs a cornea transplant, we are able to do it. If someone has glaucoma – that is high pressure in the eyes – we can take care of that, if someone needs refractory surgery – that’s surgery to correct focusing problems – we are able to provide that.

“We have both the equipment and the personnel to be able to provide whatever is needed,” the doctor told BBC Africa’s Anne Mawathe.

While most eye care in Kenya is provided through the state hospitals, the queues are long and the service is far from ideal.

Dr Kimani and her colleagues believe that their clinic is a better alternative.

“Some of the services we provide are not cheap but they are not cheap anywhere in the world,” she said.

But she thinks their fees are lower than those of comparable clinics in Europe, the US, or South Africa.

Treating the poor

However, they are aware that many of their treatments are still beyond the reach of Kenya’s poor and so they have created a charitable arm to the company that provides “pro-bono treatments for patients in desperate need” and runs eye tests in the slum areas of the capital, Nairobi.

People queuing for eye tests
The company runs eye tests in the slum areas of Nairobi

“The kind of eye hospital we dream about with my team is where we would be able to give, on the one hand, service to those who can afford it and are looking to going abroad for this service and, on the other hand, the people who are the majority of this country but, with little subsidy, can get good health care,” she said.

The centre is also offering services to foreign medical tourists who could, they say, “get their eyes lasered at the same standard, using the same equipment [as abroad] but for a lower cost, and then go on a safari with their new perfect vision”.

However, Dr Kimani warns budding entrepreneurs that starting and running a business usually means a considerable financial sacrifice.

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Sometimes you may even go without a salary but there’s always that satisfaction that you’re offering a service that you feel proud of”

According to her, although her company has grown significantly since it started, it is still along way from where they want it to be.

“Eventually we hope even to be a centre that is able to train, even offer some speciality training for eye doctors.”

She admits that they are not yet earning a salary of note and says that a significant amount of the money they get is being used to pay for the equipment they need to perform laser surgeries.

“Right now, I must confess, finances are tight and of course when you’re a business owner you get paid last; sometimes you may even go without a salary but there’s always that satisfaction that you’re offering a service that you feel proud of.”

If you have any questions for Dr Kahaki Kimani, please join her in a live Q&A on the BBC Africa Facebook page from 1500 – 1600GMT on Friday 15 February.

African Dream is broadcast on the BBC Focus on Africa radio programme every Thursday afternoon, and on BBC World News throughout the day on Fridays

Every week, one successful business man or woman will explain how they started off and what others could learn from them.

The Ghanaian woman who made millions fighting skin-bleaching

The Ghanaian woman who made millions fighting skin-bleaching

African Dream: Ghana’s Grace Amey-Obeng

Ghana’s Grace Amey-Obeng, one of West Africa’s most successful businesswomen, made her fortune promoting products which emphasised the beauty of the black skin, at a time when many of her competitors were selling dangerous skin-bleaching formulas.

The business empire she started a quarter of a century ago with around $100 (£63) now has an annual turnover of between $8m and $10m.

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The women in the market had destroyed their skin with all this kind of beauty products, bleaching products”

Grace Amey-Obeng

Her FC Group of Companies – which includes a beauty clinic, a firm that supplies salon equipment and cosmetics, and a college – has eight branches in Ghana and exports to Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Mrs Amey-Obeng has won dozens of accolades and industry awards for her skincare beauty products and marketing.

But one of the things that make her especially proud is her FC Beauty College which, since its opening in 1999, has trained more than 5,000 young people, mostly women.

“It’s like a family bond. I’m so proud that they have managed to go through the programme,” she told the BBC’s series African Dream.

Equally important to her is her role as a medical aesthetician and she cites seeing a skin condition resolved as something that gives her “joy”.

“I’m so happy that God has given me that talent and that touch to heal people,” she said.

‘Irreparable damage’

Mrs Amey-Obeng studied beauty therapy in the United Kingdom and after graduation, in the 1980s, returned to her native Ghana.

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Grace Amey-Obeng

Grace Amey-Obeng
  • Age: 55
  • Studied Beauty Therapy at Croydon College, London, UK
  • CEO FC Group of Companies
  • Annual turnover: $8-10 million
  • Start-up capital: $100
  • Number of employees: 95
  • Exports to: Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast, UK, Switzerland
  • Branches in Ghana: Eight
  • Trainees: 286 currently in hairdressing/beauty therapy
  • Hobbies: Collecting African art

She knew that in her country women take great pride in their appearance and was convinced that there was a niche market she could “tap into”.

Working out of her bag and going from house to house she advised people on skincare.

Soon, however, she became aware that there was “a lot of skin-bleaching going on”, a trend she found “alarming” and something that is common in much of Africa.

“The women in the market had destroyed their skin with all this kind of beauty products, bleaching products, and so I saw the need for assisting them to reverse the process because otherwise it would become a social problem,” she said.

“The level of damage – in this climate – bleaching does is irreparable,” she added.

Not long after her return to Ghana, she opened her first beauty clinic with financial support from her family.

“I couldn’t access any funds from the bank. I didn’t even think about it because everybody said ‘In this country nobody will give you money'”.

Business loan offers came pouring in only after her business had been running for three years.

Although access to bank loans in Ghana might be relatively easier these days, she advises that budding entrepreneurs should take care not to borrow too much.

Made in Ghana

Mrs Amey-Obeng explained that, once her clinic was running, she realised that the imported products they were recommending often proved too expensive for their clients.

FC Beauty College students Since its opening, the FC Beauty College has trained more than 5,000 young people

This was often a result of currency exchange rate fluctuations.

“It was a challenge. They would come back with worse conditions, and so we said: ‘OK, why don’t we start our own line that we can sell to our people?'”.

Her skincare line, which she started in 1998, would soon have a huge success not only because of the products’ prices – which currently range from $3 to $15 – but also, in her opinion, because they were made taking into account black skins and the West African climate.

In view of her concerns about skin bleaching, the name of her brand, Forever Clair (Clear), may seem controversial to some.

However, she argues that “clair” there refers to “light, hope and strength”, not skin colour.

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The joy of putting smiles on the faces of people that this business offers, that’s what makes me want to do it forever”

“Light shows the way. It’s not about complexion, it’s about the heart,” the entrepreneur said.

And she seems indeed bent on helping others to gain hope and strength. She is well-known in Ghana for her philanthropic work, especially through the Grace Amey-Obeng International Foundation.

Women leaders, she says, should offer a helping hand to less fortunate women, encourage them and share expertise.

“The joy of putting smiles on the faces of people that this business offers, that’s what makes me want to do it forever.”

African Dream is broadcast on the BBC Focus on Africa radio programme every Thursday afternoon, and on BBC World News throughout the day on Fridays

Every week, one successful business man or woman will explain how they started off and what others could learn from them.


Editor’s Note:

The Bataillon d’Intervention Rapide (BIR) which has been tagged as the elite force in the provision of security in Cameroon and extending to the Central African sub-region, may have failed in its primary mission to provide security in the Northern part of the country. This may not come as surprising to many who have questioned already the large concentration of the force at the Man O War Bay in Limbe, given that the creation of the force by Cameroon President Paul Biya in 1999, was said to be with the singular objective of fighting armed banditry, kidnappings and other criminal activities along the Cameroon borders north of the country. If there are any doubts about the proficiency of the BIR in carrying out its mandate, this is dispelled with the following report that came across from the BBC

Gunmen in northern Cameroon have abducted seven French tourists near the border with Nigeria, French President Francois Hollande has said. He says they belong to the same family and were seized by a “known terrorist group based in Nigeria”.

Mr Hollande added that the seven – who are said to include children – were probably taken to northern Nigeria. Two militant groups are active there. One, Ansaru, claimed the abduction of seven foreign workers on Sunday.

Ansaru also sayd it is holding a French national, Francis Colump, who was seized in the northern state of Katsina. Another Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, has staged many attacks across northern Nigeria in recent years.

A Cameroonian security official told France’s AFP news agency that the family had been returning from a visit to Waza National Park when they were attacked.


No Country for Old Men? Think Again…There are countries in Africa for old men ..and women.

    • By Kojo Amonoo in PERCEPTION (Files) ·

      Soon after the death Professor John Atta-Mills of Ghana ,I read an article with the headline “Why do so many African leaders die in office?”..The first paragraph said …”It’s rare for the leader of a country to die in office. Since 2008, it’s happened 13 times worldwide – but 10 of those leaders have been African. Why is it so much more common in this one continent?”. It went on to name the leaders who have died since 2008.- Ethiopia PM, Meles Zenawi -57 ,Ghana president, John Atta Mills -68,Malawi president, Bingu wa Mutharika -78 ,Guinea Bissau president, M B Sanha -64 ,Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi -69, Nigeria president, Umaru Yar’Adua -58 ,Gabon president, Omar Bongo-73 Guinea Bissau president, J B Vieira -69, Guinea president, Lansana Conte -74 ,Zambia president, Levy Mwanawasa 59.

      Atta- Mills  was due to contest another election for a second term in December 2012…Had he had the chance to stand and won ,he would have been 69years by the start of his term ..and 72years by the end of the term.African leaders,seemingly ,prefer to be carried out of office in a coffin rather than die in retirement.

      Aside from the intrigue,what also stood out for me, was their collective age.That got me thinking and grappling with another important and pertinent question – do the ages of our African leaders, negatively ,impacts on the development of our countries or not?.I am beginning to believe that it does ..and that there is a correlation between the ages of our leaders and our stagnant development ..So, as far I can see ,one of the reasons African countries are lagging behind, is that our leaderships are ,relatively, too old.

      It is not by accident that workers have to retire, when they reach a certain age. So how come our leaders don’t retire when they reach, say 65yrs or whatever the retirement age is in their respective countries?.The presidency is after all a job, not a career. Unfortunately, our leaders have turned it into a career, and for some ,even a private business.Question is, why do we continue to let these members of the exclusive “Very Old African Leaders’ club”….these old men….and women…to rule over us for far too long….when their ages could be hampering the development of our countries …and Africa for that matter ?.

      Before you go accusing me of indulging in “ageism”, (all the “isms” make me, I want you to take a look at the list below to get my point .Although some of the leaders named are no more with us…., the landscape,nevertheless, remains largely the same .[Correct as of May 11, 2011] .  


      Abdoulaye Wade ( Senegal )- age 83 , Hosni Mubarak ( Egypt ) – age 82 ,Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe ) – age 86 , Hifikepunye Pohamba ( Namibia ) – age 74 ,Rupiah Banda ( Zambia ) – age 73 ,Mwai Kibaki ( Kenya ) – age 71 ,Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ( Liberia ) – age 75 ,Colonel Gaddafi ( Libya ) – age 68 ,Jacob Zuma ( South Africa ) – age 68 ,Bingu Wa Mtalika (Malawi) – age 76 ,John Evans Atta-Mills (Ghana) – age 68

      Average Age: =======================75.6yrs


      Barrack Obama ( USA ) – age 48 , David Cameron ( UK ) – age 43 , Dimitri Medvedev ( Russia ) – age 45 , Stephen Harper ( Canada ) – age 51 , Julia Gillard ( Australia ) – age 49 ,Nicolas Sarkozy ( France ) – age 55 , Luis Zapatero ( Spain ) – age 49 ,Jose Socrates ( Portugal ) – age 53 ,Angela Merkel ( Germany )-56

      Avearge  Age =========== 50.1yrs

      For some reason ,most Asian countries suffer with the same affliction .The only common denominator I can see in this equation between Africa and Asia is, perhaps ,the fact that many of the countries on both continents are made up of the “Third World”.China ,it would seem ,has turned round the corner with the successive election of “young guns” as leaders in recent years …. could that account for her meteoric economic growth?..I digress ,so I will stick with what I know.

      One of the explanations offered for Africa’s love of these old leaders.. is the beautiful and limitedly true adage that old age connotes wisdom. Because of their experiences ,and grey hair to boot ,the elderly are “smarter and wiser”. This is true of traditional societies ,where things remain the same or change very slowly.

      Then we have those who shamelessly cling onto power, by any means necessary.Amateur psychologists will probably, agree with the “Poverty in childhood and early life” explanation…and the lasting impact it has on them.It goes like this …African presidents, before they have been elected, would have led a relatively disadvantaged life, and disadvantageous lifestyle, which in turn impact on their mentality, at subsequent ages.So, once they get into the presidential office, even though they and their families will be living a lifestyle far far far removed from their fellow citizens,they cling onto power and privilege …for fear of slipping back into poverty.

      From what some astute economists tell us,The difference between the ages of the most developed countries and African leaders is 25.5 years. Oh! ..and incidentally, it seems Africa is about 26 years behind the West ,as far as development is concerned…..uncanny accuracy ?.

      I am no gerontologist, but this I know …As we grow older our memory/brain and health start to fail us.Most elderly fear change, and so many of the elderly live in the past….”colo- mentality” ..I hear you say…well perhaps …LOL .How can a president who lives in the past be an effective leader in the present?. Since they are not comfortable with change, they are more likely to resist change at any cost .I wonder whether septugenerian Biya of Cameroon, and octogenarian Mugabe of Zimbabwe, are computer/Internet literate?….maybe they are…but I doubt it.

      If we consider the rule of individual African leaders, they have turned worse, as they grow older in office . Most start off with all the good intentions, but then turn into dictatorial monsters .As they remain in power for so long, they convince/deceive themselves that they know better than others. That’s why most of them are less likely to embrace diverse opinions..but would rather surround themselves with cronies and sycophants.

      I think if Africa is to develop progressively,the countries need to set an age limit for the office of presidency and enforce it .It was done in Nigeria, when Obasanjo tried to extend the term in office for the presidency…Goodluck also hinted at the same ,but appeared to have abandoned the idea .An individual’s skills, particularly speed, agility, strength, and coordination does not get better over time. A prolonged job boredom and lack of intellectual stimulation and forgetfulness, can all contribute to reduced productivity and stagnated development in any country.Europeans have a clear preference for electing leaders who are relatively young. It seems impossible to be elected in Europe, if you are older ,unless the leader is popular while occupying higher functions.


      As far as I am concerned, we need progressive leaders in Africa ….leaders with vision and direction  …more now than ever..and nothing must be allowed to stand in the way.

      • Goddy Oji skills, particularly speed, agility, strength, and coordination are what you need from an athlete or a warrior, not a leader of men.
      • Kojo Amonoo’re wrong there brother Goddy..politicians /leaders need those skills as well ..I’m sure you’ve seen the likes of Obama and Cameron showing off those skills playing basket ball ,golf,riding bicycles obviously matters to them as leaders,…See More
      • Goddy Oji My dear Kojo pray tell how am I wrong? if I want a basket ball player, golf or cyclist for president then I will know how to choose one
      • Goddy Oji Kojo this age thing in Africa smacks of one of those things you hear about a unique democratic model for Africa. The leading democracies in the world do not have an age limit, and in the UK you can be prime minister at 18. The issue is not the ages o…See More
      • Kojo Amonoo I’m sure you would .. but how healthy a leader is plays to the electorate on different level of consciousness and the leaders know that …Even in Africa when leaders have been ill there have been attempts to cover up…the last thing any leader would want to be seen as, is unhealthy /weakling and not able to meet the challenges of the office.
      • Goddy Oji You are right Kojo the style of dress of the leader also plays to the electorate on a different level of consciousness, but we do not pass a law that a president should not be a weakling, or unhealthy. Why pass a law about their ages?
      • Sam Kwendi age has rendered them senile.
      • Kojo Amonoo Goddy,of course image is important to both the leaders and electorate. I wouldn’t advocate a “one shoe fits all” democratic model for Africa …it won’t work, as things stand now.However, you do not answer why Africa has more old leaders than Europe.The leading democracies might not have age limit, but come elections and the electorate still vote for, relatively, more young leaders.There some African countries with viable democratic structures like Ghana,Kenya ,Liberia etc..So there is hope ,but not even the leading democracies could lay claim to “transparent politics”.I am not talking about age per se’,but “old age “.That Africa has more, relatively, old leaders is is based on statistical evidence ..not something plucked out of thin air.But I get you on all the other points .
      • Syl Sems They say the older you become the wiser you are,but this does not match in the case of some of our African leaders, I do not think age limit should be put in place,what we should be concerned about is to have a democratic government .when it comes to age personally I think the population will vote for a younger president and I think some African countries should implement the no more than 2 term rule,but again we have these young presidents clinging to power because of greed.At the end of the day we need young energetic people who are willing to put the country’s interest first in regardless of all the temptations leading to greed and like I said have a democratic government .
      • Dick Mullen African leaders on the whole, are not dynamic. To me they are wise and statesmanlike (some) but they appear dusty and out of sync with the ever changing world and unable to cope with the supposed wealth of corruption within their own ministries. Religion weighs too heavily on the decisions made; Gods word remains the rule of thumb, he’ll be present in every discussion and figure somewhat in every decision made. Old and new laws (e.g. homosexuality laws) are also out of sync which impacts on the wests ‘man in the street’ perception of a backward thinking continent. But also, the young African, given the internet and American TV imports, are aware of this and are frustrated by it, and share a mindset more in-line with the West than their elder countrymen. As our young men grow into adults over the next decade we’ll see the beginnings of a cultural revolution so disenchanted are they in the way things are currently run.
      • Tremayne Primm I believe it is not only an issue of age but of how long they can remain in the position of leader/President. No one should be allowed to be president. There needs to be an age when one can run for president and how long you can serve. You leave no option for someone to come and take the reigns and implement more updated policies to move with society.
      • Kojo Amonoo @Syl, you’re right…I would much rather have a democratic government led by an old president than a dictatorship led by a young president .The age limit I’m referring to, is one of retirement, because the presidency is a job, not a career.I am sure intheir respective countries, they do have retirement age for most jobs ,so why not the presidency?.I do not want dwell too much on the age as such, as it is just one of many issues around African leadership.But when I consider the statistics in comparison with Europe , I do not want to be dismissive of it either nor it’s impact .@Dick ,you’re spot on.See what happened in Ghana when a relatively young Rawlings came to power and ushered in a new democratic era …and he was still relatively young, even after his term in office .@Tremayne ..that’s exactly my point. If a retirement age was set and a 2- term limit was imposed .. one would either be caught out by the retirement age,the two- term limit or both.
      • Sheteh Newuh Great analysis Kojo and I agree with almost all contained therein. While it is accepted that age means wisdom, Ola Rotimi already pointed out that ‘old age does cruel things to the mind’. We must not forget the concept of diminishing returns which surely sets in with any prolonged presidency. 
        I may not be too concerned about term limits but I surely worry a lot about age limits… a person younger than 35 for example may not make a good president in a large country, but not every person above 60 is necessarily wise because of age. So I think getting a limit to the age when a person can be president can go a long way.
      • Tremayne Primm Youth brings new ideas and concepts the older person would not entertain. With age it is more difficult to get that person to entertain new ideas or change their concepts, youth is more adventurous. In the United states you can run for president when you are 35 years of age. I have yet to see anyone that young run for president. President Obama and Kennedy are the youngest and they were in their forties. In Africa, the people need to stop being afraid of their government and demand change. It will not come if the people remain passive.


By Kojo Amonoo in PERCEPTION (Files)

 My 14-year old nephew informed me the other week that he found some of his school friends were “mentally -enslaved ” and needed “emancipation”..(LOL).He said his friends called each other names like “coconut” and “choc-ice”, if anyone did anything remotely “English”.At first I was shocked that called each other such names, and laughed about it .He then confessed that he didn’t think they understood what the term actually meant, as most things they did or said was always considered “mental-slavery “.

Then a few days ago, a member on here, revealed that her daughter and friends, do call each other “mental -slave”.I knew some members here, have on occasions, labelled each other as such,but it would appear it was also prevalent amongst our young ones too.

My nephew wanted to know what mental -slavery meant I answered ,starting with a rhetorical question “Does the fish know it lives in water?..and this was my attempt to explain to him……Imagine that we could communicate with beings who live in the sea. We go out into the oceans and seas and rivers, settle on the bottom and talk to the fishes around us about living in water. We ask them numerous questions, but the vast majority have no clue as to what we’re talking about. We try to tell them that they are in water, in liquid, but that there is a whole world outside this substance where we live and which is very dry and different. They don’t get it, don’t understand it, and think we’re crazy. Some even get scared about the concept of there being a different reality…………

Well, we leave the bottom area of the water body and start to rise to the surface, interviewing fish along the way. Most still don’t understand our questions but here and there we begin to meet a few sea creatures who are aware that there is something outside the liquid they live in. They had a traumatizing experience of being hauled out of the water for a time, against their will, and found themselves gasping and choking in the absence of water and with their last bit of dying strength they were able to escape their would-be captors and return to the deeps. Though they were aware of something other than their reality, because it came within an experience which was life-threatening and against their will, they emotionally cannot deal with the implications that it brings, and will not discuss with you very much or for very long………

Now, we are at the surface, our heads bobbing on top of our bodies in liquid embrace. Suddenly, the surface is broken by a dolphin in full flight. soaring through the air, re-entering the water, rising again and moonwalking its tail along the surface, just frolicking and having a blast. You approach the dolphin and this interview is quite different. Others come to listen in, other dolphins, whales, salmon, etc. They know exactly what you are talking about; they understand there is more than just the liquid world for they flit between the two all the time; some species who talk to you admit that they occasionally crawl onto land to just hang out there for a while. They answer your questions, you have a great interview and they go on their way……

The world of water is the world of white hegemony, the racist world we live in. Most of us, especially those of us born into a minority population within majority white countries, only know the water. Weights are attached to us to make sure we stay near bottom, such as non-African religions with anti-African symbols; non-African languages with anti-African concepts embedded into the words and phrases; the imposition of anti-African cultural concepts through media and many more other items which weigh us down…..

Some of us who have had the privilege of growing up in predominantly African populations have, by benefit of seeing Africans in various positions of power, been yanked out of the deeper aspects of white hegemony. These folks would balk and challenge the more crude and blatant forms of racism, but often have not rooted out the destructive Euro-cultural values which still rule our minds. Often there is great fear within this group; fear to do away with racism altogether as they see themselves as occupying that middle position, (weighted but not as heavily as the first group), occupying a relatively comfortable position, higher than the creatures at the ocean floor. Plus, they still have a hard time imagining a world so foreign to their day-to-day experience…

However, there are others of this group who appreciate the limitations that they’ve had imposed on them and they take to swimming closer to the surface and taking notes from the freedom snatchers …..This group, the freedom snatchers, are the creatures who pull out of the grasp of white hegemony as often as possible, to experience, as much as it is possible, a different world. Those moments out of oppression with like-minded community members nourishes their spirit to give them energy to continue the fight to destroy the most destructive and dangerous system, racism.

Those from this group who use their psychological freedom for the benefit of the community act as conductors for those who are ready to make the journey themselves. For those who cannot yet step out of the blinding whiteness of their reality, we are the endarkening shade that remains, beckoning to those whose eyes need soothing and healing and vision………We have not yet changed the water, we still live within it, but we are not of it. We are in various stages of recovery and we know it will be a life-long process…..But we KNOW that things have not always been this way, we were not always confined to water. There had been another reality before and we struggle to restore that world reality again.