age and Malawi’s election
Like yesterday, today’s newspaper had four full-page ads taken out by the leading presidential candidates. Only one candidate had a new ad: Atupele Muluzi.
I direct your attention to the bottom of the ad, which reads, “ung’ono ung’ono“. I first heard this phrase last night when I asked a 25-year-old small businessman (operating a braai outside a few bars in Blantyre) who he was voting for in the election. He said “ung’ono ung’ono“, and meant Atupele Muluzi. I don’t know that the phrase has an exact translation, but it’s meant to signify youth. The 25-year-old at the bar said (translated from the Chichewa), “I’m young, I can’t vote for the old ones.” I’m translating his saying “ukulu ukulu” as “old ones”. He was referring to the other major candidates.
Consistent with his own message, Muluzi has been billed the “youth” candidate. Atupele Muluzi is only 35 years old. Compare that to his opponents: Peter Mutharika is 74 years old, Joyce Banda is 64 years old, and Lazarus Chakwera is 59 years old.
Earlier today, Matt Collin at Aid Thoughts wondered what “Generation Change” in Atupele Muluzi’s ad meant. To be clear, when Atupele is saying that Malawi needs a new generation of leadership, he means a younger generation. He hasn’t invoked the hippos vs. cheetahs analogy directly, but Muluzi is definitely trying to cast himself as a stark difference from the other candidates.
It’s not clear, however, that Atupele has been terribly successful with getting support from younger voters. In its recently released dispatch analyzing survey data collected in Malawi between March and April, the Afrobarometer broke down intended presidential vote choice by age group. The youngest age group seemed to greatly favor the DPP presidential candidate, Peter Mutharika; more than twice as many 18-25 year olds preferred Mutharika to Atupele Muluzi (the UDF candidate).