Watch out...as you get older

HARARE - Anyone who believes that the older they get, the wiser they become has to be warned seriously: you could be kidding yourself into an early grave — you are not Methuselah.

I might not be referring to anyone I know, in particular.

But I am a citizen and a voter in a country where the leader is past 90 years old. He has been in power for 35 years already.

The country’s jobless statistics hovers at around 80 percent of the able-bodied population. The government has vehemently denied this.

But all you have to do is walk in any sizeable city and there are more people walking the streets, rather aimlessly, than those working for a living.

The government will say there is no need for panic — everything is under control.

Somebody has said that Adolf Hitler said the same thing when the allies were a few yards from his bunker in Berlin.

Age is said to be something to marvel at. It can endow a man or woman with massive intellect, but can also inflict massive responsibilities on that same machine.

Some say this could lead to a certain amount of overloading.

Others insist that the brain is capable of sorting out these proportions equitably.

Yet so far, no scientist alive has been able to tell us that such an old brain is not susceptible to major failure.

In other words, it is believed that it cannot suddenly become dysfunctional without warning.

Is there any credible suggestion that there is some kind of warning bell in the brain?

When that bell rings, is the owner of the brain expected to suddenly realise it is time to stop everything — and let Nature take its course?

Or, is the scientist supposed to call out to the wife, who is in the kitchen making supper: “Would you call the chief and tell him that I am at my wit’s end. I’ve no idea which lever to pull next….”  

You may laugh at all this as a huge joke on elderly politicians.

But I have previously quoted the apparently genuine and realistic case of Habib Bourguiba, one-time president of Tunisia.

There is documented evidence that the former leader ended up losing his marbles.

Something weird had happened to him, but the general idea is that he just lost the plot altogether, and became mindless as a leader.

Some — or even most of us — may insist that our president is different.

He has an intelligent mind and has never displayed any evidence of mental dysfunction.

Some might wonder how this whole episode seemed to begin with his young wife entering the political arena with a bang — a real bang!

She ended up having to have her appendix removed altogether, although no doctor pronounced publicly that her condition had been brought about by her intensive and extensive political campaigning around the country.

A point that has been made by many political analysts is that we the people of this country must care for our leaders very seriously.

This must include our concern over their physical and mental health.

Once we are convinced that their travels or campaigns may be leading them to a decline in their physical or mental health, we must care enough for the men to bring this to the attention of all those responsible for their mental and physical health.

I appreciate that these are hard times for us all.

The economy is probably at its worst since independence. The people are what might be called in “mental disarray”. They cannot pinpoint which direction the nation is taking — left, right or centre?

What they seem to be satisfied of is that we are in real trouble. People have threatened to kill others or themselves.

This is a highly undesirable state of affairs and all of us must act without delay to halt this slide into total anarchy.

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