The youth uprisings that led to the Arab Spring started on December 17 2010 in the small town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.
The historic revolt started when fruit vendor Mohammed Bouaziz, 26, set himself ablaze in protest against massive youth unemployment, economic hardship, corruption and repressive rule.
The incident comes to mind following recent calls by the former first lady Callista Mutharika for President Peter Mutharika, her in-law, not to contest in 2019 Tripartite Elections and leave the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) mantle to youthful Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
Politically, the widow of former president Bingu wa Mutharika has set her fingers on fire the same way the young Tunisian burned himself to bring to light problems affecting the youth.
The boy died on January 4 2011, exactly 18 days after the act of self-immolations which pushed outraged youthful Tunisians to take to the streets in solidarity and to demand a fair deal from a political system in which they did not count.
Bouazizi’s self-immolation was the last straw that broke the camel`s back.
In Malawi, Callista’s call for new blood in State House remains a hot topic of discussions that would result into a revolution by young people calling for youthful leadership.
We have witnessed the wind of change that blew in Arab countries where aged and cunning leaders, who have been in power for decades, have been forced to leave office in a day.
I am one of the youthful aspirants for the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections because I believe the youth are no leaders of tomorrow, but of today.
I see the forthcoming election as an opportune time for the youth to stand out and be counted by vying for elected public office.
On the contrary, remarks made by Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, who is DPP vice-president for the North, are shocking.
In a speech subtly attacking Chilima, Gondwe said that running affairs of government is serious business and not meant for “babies”.
He argued that it was wrong to think of replacing Mutharika with ‘a baby’ ahead of the 2019 polls.
Gondwe should realise that the so-called babies constitute the majority of the population in which his kind are supposed to be enjoying their retirement, not delaying the future the youth want.
Sooner or later, these ‘babies’ shall cry loud and crawl to take out the old buddies from their comfort zones. That will be the genesis of a youth revolution.
Young people no longer appear to be bound by hegemonic political discourse and party ideologies.
They are creating their own spaces to engage the State and society.
The Tunisian revolution, led mainly by disenfranchised young citizens, was a powerful example of active citizenship outside traditional political structures and has opened up a space for major transformations.
The Arab Spring was an awakening on the African continent where young people need to fight for what belongs to them.
Libya, Egypt, Senegal, Sudan, Angola, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa formed youth movements to fight against repressive rule and corruption in government.
In Europe, too, young people came out on the streets to express grievance over economic hardship and unemployment.
Young people are not cowards. We are watching keenly, knowing that even tear gas and live ammunition shall not work the day ‘babies’ craw to the streets to demand a fair share of milk hidden by the old guards.
As the youth, we need to unite regardless of party colours to participate in the forthcoming polls by standing as councillors, members of Parliament and presidents.
May 21 next year could be a day of revolution for Malawi. Our voters’ certificates will be our weapons of mass destruction.