THE BLOG
09/05/2012 04:05 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2012

Africa's Dead Presidents: Are we growing up?

About two years ago, on May 6, Nigeria lost its sitting president, Umaru Yar'Adua. I recalled it because I had just returned from a trip there and was in the midst of re-thinking my business. I was a bit worried yet surprised at the calmness after his death. This was unusual for Nigeria. But it gave me a clear indication of what I was thinking. We are growing up. Finally.

Can you believe it? Nothing major happened. Africa is changing, I thought then. It is returning to its true self where change happens like nature and we move with the spirits of our ancestors. Simply, we take time to mourn, gather our thoughts and remain calm; thus, no violent coups happen. I am a child of Nigeria who is riddled with the scars and memories of coup d'état. Finally we are evolving. This is evident in the fact that four other African Presidents died in power this year.

Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Ghana and Ethiopia all experienced the loss of a sitting president. And there was transition without chaos or violence. Oh, my Africa is growing up. Since 2008, 10 African leaders have died in office. I say it again, Africa is changing. It is moving from childhood into its teenage years. And as Global Africans, we should take note of this transition. It is significant. And with all transitions, as Africans, we must honor this change.

The other phenomena we should really be concerned with are that even with the best health care, these African leaders are dying young - between 50 and 75. All four presidents - men - simply fell ill and had months of sickness and treatments. As Global Africans, we really need to address healthcare in Africa - as most of these presidents went overseas for treatments. If Presidents cannot be treated in their own countries, what does that say about their leaderships? And what does that say about how things are for ordinary people?

I may agree about the reality of African's life expectancy but this is linked with how we do not take care of our health. As a sister to four African brothers, I am more aware of their resistance to see doctors and take care of their health. In fact, my mother and I spend a lot of time as they would say "harping" about their health. African men are generally stubborn and resistant to seeing doctors like most men, but the conditions in Africa require it even more. So, I appeal to my Global African brothers and men out there. Begin to take care of yourself, life needs to be lived fully and longer.

More reading at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19356410

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