Will Africa Ever Achieve a Continental Democracy?

by Tokunbo

The definition of democracy is “A SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT by the people for the people, a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. “

This is the ideal coming from the prescriptions of the so called developed world. Africa is described as one continent whose people are not able to achieve this ideal. Shall we beg to ask for or seek the major reasons why this ideal is so far-fetched for the Africans?

The founding of Liberia in the early 1800s was motivated by the domestic politics of slavery and race in the United States as well as by U.S. foreign policy interests. In 1816, a group of white Americans founded the American Colonization Society (ACS) to deal with the “problem” of the growing number of free blacks in the United States by resettling them in Africa. The resulting state of Liberia would become the second (after Haiti) black republic in the world at that time. At this stage the people of Liberia did not have a choice to self determination as this was an imposed government by the imperialists.

The struggle for freedom or self-determination for the African started more than 100 years in the North and West of the continent. This brought about the advent of liberation movements in both the former Francophone, Lusophone and Anglophone states namely:  Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia Ghana and Nigeria freedom or the Guinea Conakry, Guinea- Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde.

Because in some cases the freedom was attained after serious guerilla wars, it meant that the stability of the achieved freedom would always be at risk. The former colonial masters against whom the wars were waged, are the ones that would henceforth orchestrate mayhem and confusion, if the so called elected leaders are not of their choice.  Since then, there has always been a behind the scenes force that determines the leader of the state in question.

For Africans, whose precolonial era had a system of communal-ity which embraced the notion of “Ubuntu” which is the spirit of human universality, this system called democracy seems at odds with the natural state of Africans.


  1. Taurayi_P

    Yes, your points are very valid and strong. Democracy and equality between Africans is essential for the African’s development.

    I love your article!

  2. Grids

    Hmmm… excellent points, but is this the traditional African way though?
    Traditionally Africa is based on a system of Rulers (Kings, chiefs etc)
    This democracy, not being an African thing lends itself to be beholden to the people who devised the system. Hence you have his perpetual begging and borrowing and consulting to the western countries for their goods and services in exchange for our rich resources..

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