How old is too old?

This weekend I’ve been painting chairs again, and somehow this activity seems to turn my mind to politics. Go figure?!? Firstly, I doubt any royal or powerful behinds will be sitting on my dining room chairs any time soon. Secondly, I do hope that this will be my last post touching on politics for a while. It’s all getting a bit long in the tooth, and I say roll on municipal elections. Roll on 3 August 2016. Roll on change.

Our president is 74 years old. Zimbabwe’s president is 92. Tunisia’s president is 89. “The average age of the ten oldest African leaders is 78.5, compared to 52 for the world’s ten most-developed economies. Arguably, compared to other continents, Africa has a very small proportion of younger leaders between 35 and 55. Paradoxically, the continent has the youngest population in the world, with a median age of 19.5 years according to the U.N.” (read David E Kiwuwa’s entire article on CNN’s website here)

Google tells me that the average age of an American president is 54 years and 11-months, and that the youngest president to assume American office was Teddy Roosevelt, at 42. Obama is now 54. Trump is 69 years old. Hilary is 68. 

I believe that the average age of retirement in South Africa is somewhere between 60 – 63, and apparently ‘older’ people (over fifties?) struggle to find new jobs. This may be hear-say, but a number of friends and acquaintances have said that they are worried about leaving a job they are not happy in, largely due to the fact that they fear they are unemployable based on their age. 

So how old is too old? “For what?” you should say.

I finished painting the chairs before I came to any conclusions, but I must admit that I’m a bit confused. Never mind any of the many other reasons why someone may not be fit for the chair at the head of the table. How come it’s okay for someone, way-way past retirement age, to ‘run’ a country, anywhere in the world? 

On the upside, these thoughts do give me hope that I can still achieve many things in the years to come. And yes, I’m excited at the prospects.

Just this week I interviewed a businessman who is retiring after 45 years in the work place. He said: “It’s time to move on and let the younger generation take over.  I’ve taught them all I know, add that to what they have learned along the way, and they are far more experienced and capable than I am.”

Roll on a new generation of leadership. Roll on change. 



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