Tuesday, March 15, 2005


In this paper, I analyze and compare the origins and the source of the legitimacy of the institutions of government in the Western World and in former colonies Africa. I then look at the different forms of capital, in particular histo-cultural capital and social capital, and the access that people in the West and in Africa have to them. In comparing the two, I determine that while the West had the required conditions to establish Democracy, Colonialism and its effects did not allow Africans to tap into their capital, to convert it into the basis for the democracy. I finally look at postcolonial states in Africa, and establish that the process of democratization must be focused on long-term results.

Acknowledgements and dedications

There are many people that I need to acknowledge, for helping me – directly or morally – to write this thesis. First of all, in the Earlham College Faculty, my academic advisor Dr. Bob Johnstone for providing me with the firmness that I needed to succeed in Earlham College. Similarly, my senior seminar advisor Dr. B. Welling Hall, as she has been a great support throughout my career in Earlham, the various aspects of my Model United Nations experience, and particularly through the process of writing this thesis. Her constant support and direction were critical to my finishing this paper. I must also acknowledge Professors Annie Bandy, Karim Sagna, Kathy Taylor, Phyllis Boanes, Chuck Yates, Bob and Carol Hunter, as well as Director of Multi-Cultural affairs Shenita Piper, Dean Deb McNish, Rich Dornberger and Judy, the Runyan Center housekeeper, for all their active daily support in my time in Earlham, and during the completion of this thesis. I am indebted to you all.

Among my friends and peers, I must single out my dearest friends and Earlham 2004 classmates Sudha Sukumaran, Ishaq El-Husseini, Passant Adly, Curtis Gutter, Mike Ford, Marianne Moussa, Cody Reed, Pumla Pamla, Andrew Cornelius, Keya Taylor and Sophie Morvan, who some times took time off their own thesis work, to help me test my English, and the soundness of my ideas. You all hopefully know how grateful I feel to have you. I am also grateful to Sameer Khatiwada, Destiny Kibalama, Jacqueline Ero, Andy Bray, Angelique Owanga and all the Africans and other International students of Earlham, that allowed me to listen to their perspectives on the issue, in order to form a more informed one for myself. I also want to recognize particularly Cody for her allowing me to use part of her paper. There are so many friends and acquaintances on the Earlham campus, and recent alumni, that I would want to recognize and thank, but it might take a book, so I am going to stop there.

Last but not least, I want to acknowledge the members of my family that have helped me through this process. First and foremost, my mother Dr. Helene Mambu-ma-Disu, the WHO Representative in Cameroon, without whom I would not be on this earth, and without whom I would never have had so many opportunities that I have enjoyed, and that most children from my country have not. Through my mother, I met more people than many (and BIG people!), and I learned the values of tolerance, communication, the commonality between all humans, pride in my Congolese and African citizenship, but also the benefits of true World citizenship, that gave me the foundations for the worldview I have today, and that is reflected in this paper. I love you Mum, and mfiaukidi for everything. I also want to acknowledge my father, Col. Laurent L. Mamina of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who was in jail during most of time in college, because he has strongly held beliefs, and he happens to be very vocal about them, in a tight regime of government. His courage, his strength, his perseverance and his belief in hope for Congo and Africa despite his ordeal, were a great motivating factor. Tatu, I love you, Tuasikidila!

I want to acknowledge also my uncle Prof. Freddy Matungulu, who is a great source of inspiration and pride for me, but was also kind enough to share some of his inside knowledge with me, thus helping me write this paper, and I will be eternally grateful. I want to acknowledge my surrogate father, Dr. Jean-Marie Okwo, for all the support he has given me throughout my life, and during my time in the US. Daddy, I love you! Last but not least, I want to acknowledge my American Grand-parents, Dr John Short and Barbara Short for their constant support.
Along with all these wonderful people, I also want to dedicate this paper:
-To my siblings (biological and otherwise) Pauline, Ali, Dieudonné, Guy, Theo, Nicole, Carine, Chrystelle, Michelle, Janice, Junior and their families,
-To my dearest friends Achraf Abderrahim, Tú Nguyen, Abdelhamid El-Marouri, Njaka Rakotondrazafy, Adham Rishmawi, Evelyn Rockwell, Tanyel Cemal, Eric Bandy, and Yoshi Yazawa
-To all my 450 uncles, aunts, and cousins (biological and otherwise), in Congo, and around the World, particularly Dr. Mark Szczeniowski and his family, Dr Ebrahim M. Samba, and Pastor Thomas and Mrs. Rebecca Nlandu and their family, M. Simon and Mrs Theresa Konda and their family, and Modibo Doumbia.
-To the 2000 graduating class of the French School of Bamako (MALI), the Earlham College 2004 graduates, and the staff of the WHO offices of Bamako and Yaounde (CAMEROON).

All these people have helped to make me who I am today, and have provided me with a wealth of love, friendship and knowledge, for which I will be eternally grateful. Thank you.


In my second year in college, I undertook the task of working to join the big family of political science and international relations, by declaring a “politics” major. Several motives were behind that decision. But I believe it fair and true to say that the main reason behind that move was that I intended to find solutions to one particular problem.

Something has been disturbing my mind ever since those fateful days of April 1994, when I had to leave Rwanda, due to the bloody genocide that occurred in that corner of the World. The only way that my young mind could rationalize the extent of the evil that I witnessed in that country, was by concluding that there had to exist one or more core reasons why human beings would reach such extremes of destructiveness. More recently, I have had the opportunity to observe that question on a broader field, that of former colonies in general. It is among countries that have experienced – and often are the result of – colonization, that we find what are called Less Developed Countries (LDCs), those countries in the World of which all indicators – economic, social and political – always seem in the red. These are also, and most importantly for this paper, the countries that seem to experience the most of the World’s lethal conflicts, and are prone to various degrees of destructive socio-political unrest. We do not lack examples: The Rwandan Genocide and the Burundi massacres, the war in the Congo, The various riots in Argentina, The various Politico-religious tensions in the Middle East, the religious tensions between the north and the south of Nigeria, and finally, the various coups, coup attempts, assassinations and/or rises of dictators that we have witnessed over the years in Cote d’Ivoire, Pakistan, India, Chile, Uganda, the two Congos, Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Israel, Egypt, and the list is still extremely long.

The audiovisual media often depicts the realities in these countries as a hopeless situation[1], bound to perpetuate conflicts, with no prospect for resolution. Within this context, it seems as though all have given up on finding what cause(s) could be common to all these conflicts. I personally do not share that defeatism. One might say that it is because I have a stake in the resolution of these conflicts; my country, Congo, is one of those countries. But it is also because I believe that there might be institutional reasons why these causes have not been addressed, though that is not the direct purpose of this paper. Nevertheless, my aim is to establish whether one can find and outline those common causes that, I believe, could enlighten our path towards their reduction, if not their total resolution.

There are easy answers to this question: colonialism, imperialism, globalization, etc. But even though I believe these constitute elements of the problem, I do not think that they single handedly would be satisfactory answers. Nevertheless, I do not intend to answer the question fully in this paper. I however intend to analyze certain adjacent issues. In order to have a more focused insight, I made the decision to center my analysis of former colonies mostly to African countries. In my research, I focused more on several former colonies in Africa, and Western nations such as France, the United Kingdom, Spain – former colonizers - and the United States and Canada, Western Democracies that were first colonies of another type. Some details stroke me as oddly interesting, and the following in particular. I had the privilege to have access to copies of both the most recent French Constitution, and the most recent constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Certain similarities jump to the reader’s eye (emphasis added)

:“France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organized on a decentralized basis.”
-The Constitution of the fifth French Republic (1958)

“…SOLEMNLY REAFFIRMING our attachment to principles of democracy and Human Rights such as they are defined by the universal Human Rights Declaration of 10 December 1948, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights adopted on 18 June 1981[…] The Democratic Republic of Congo shall, within its borders of 30 June 1960, be an independent, sovereign, indivisible, democratic, social and secular State.”
-The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2002)
Among the common values that these two states – one a former colonizer, and one a former colony – claim to be core to their nature are two important things secularism, and democracy. I will tackle the topic of secularism in another paper in the future. The notion of democracy, however, seems interesting for our present argument.

The concept of democracy, from the Greek demos (people) and cratos (government), is essentially one that most humans across the globe can identify with, and that is often named in these simple terms: Government of the people, by the people, for the people (Abraham Lincoln). Democracy can come in several shapes, with different institutions that vary according to the history behind their implementation, the size of the population, and the local realities. Nevertheless, it is a brand of democracy, often known as Western Democracy, which seems to be upheld at the international level as a model to follow. In this context, the concept of democracy becomes more complex, and embodies several other elements such as specific institutions, values, morals and foundations. Certain assertions of principles, such as human rights and liberties, and various connotations are so intricately embedded in the word, that the latter becomes a highly complex construct. When we consider this construct in the realm of former colonies, and their relationship with their former metropolis, several points come to our attention, and are central to the argumentation that follows.

First, there are practices such as colonialism, imperialism and slavery, of which the effects seem immeasurable on the cultural, social, human and economic capital in the colonies. Second, there are a wide variety of systems that constitute what is known as Western democracy, which implies a long and diversified process of establishment. Third, within the new post Cold War context of United States domination[2], and that of globalization, there is an increased demand, both from the inside and from the outside of the relatively young states that emerged from the decolonization process, to meet economic, and more importantly here, political standards of Western democracies. These three elements appear to be unrelated, but they are important to set the premise for the question that is central to this paper: Considering history, and the fact that most colonies chose systems of government based on the ‘Western democracy’ construct, were former colonies in Africa, at independence, in any position to meet these standards? Are they now?

[1] Annalena Oeffner, The Third World in the media (Article), as part of the Global Journalism course at JMK, Stockholms Universitetet.
[2] The use of the word domination, as opposed to hegemony, here is intentional; it reflects, in my view the perception that African laymen have of the United States’ status – a perception that s reflected in their approach of the West.

Chap. 1: What is 'Western Democracy'

The Government of the United States of America, the leading beacon for Western style democracy in International arenas, defines the pillars of democracy as follows:

  • Sovereignty of the people.
  • Government based upon consent of the governed.
  • Majority rule.
  • Minority rights.
  • Guarantee of basic human rights.
  • Free and fair elections.
  • Equality before the law.
  • Due process of law.
  • Constitutional limits on government.
  • Social, economic, and political pluralism.
  • Values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation, and compromise.[1]

Though this defines quite clearly the western take on democracy, for the purpose of this paper, we will define as ‘Western Democracy’, a system of government that is largely built on Western European traditions and principles, and European intellectual heritage, from the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle, and the institutions started during the Roman Empire, and loosely draws its present institutional arrangements from the English system of ‘mixed’ government, born out of the various progressive changes in that kingdom between 1215 (Magna Carta) and 1701 (act of Settlement), and ever since. It is a system of government that depends on the sovereignty of the people, within a sovereign state; a sovereignty which the people exercise through a representative government, based on the principle of separation of the legislative, executive and judiciary powers outlined by the philosophers of the enlightenment era (Rousseau[2], Voltaire, Montesquieu[3], etc). Key to this construct, are the principle of political pluralism and a multi-party system. It is finally a system of government that aims at guaranteeing for the people it oversees, the human rights and freedoms outlined in various bills and declarations between 1689 (Bill of Rights of the United Kingdom) and 1948 (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

With this definition, we believe, it is fair to claim that, at the ideal level, a form of this system can be beneficial for all humans, of any country, as it potentially places the tools for change in the hands of the very said humans. Nevertheless, as stated above, this form of government is a result of a very complex process in history, which has influenced the outcome that we now observe. We have also seen that the new African states eventually ‘chose’ to establish similar models; they however often failed repeatedly, clearing the way for never ending periods of unrest. One might think that with similar institutions one should expect similar outcomes, and it is not the case here. We need to examine the process by which these institutions have arisen in both realms – the West and Africa. This will assist in determining the source of the problem.

[1] From the United States State Department websitehttp://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/whatsdem/whatdm2.htm
[2] The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right, J. -J. Rousseau
[3] The Spirit of laws, Montesquieu

Chap. 2: The legitimacy of the Sovereign State

Most scholars date the notion of the sovereign state in the Western world to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648[1]. This was a treaty that had the charge to put an end to the Thirty-Year war, and reestablish the peace between the numerous Princes of Europe. It is also the document that largely determines the accepted borders of European countries presently. The scheme of the Treaty was to bring the Princes to return possessions that they usurped from during the War, and to mutually recognize each other’s territories as exclusive domains of the Princes to which they ‘belonged’. It established the non-intervention notion, which entailed that a Prince could not interfere with the internal affairs in territories of another Prince.

A ‘new’ institution rose from this treaty: the state. ‘New’, because one can make the argument that it is simply the assertion of an institution that is found in the intellectual traditions of the Western World, particularly in the Republic of Plato (Book 2), and the Politics of Aristotle. In the latter, the ancient Greek philosopher argues that the state is not only a natural institution for humans, but that it even surpasses the individual, in the order of importance:

“The state is by nature clearly prior to the family and to the individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part; for example, if the whole body be destroyed, there will be no foot or hand, except in an equivocal sense, as we might speak of a stone hand; for when destroyed the hand will be no better than that. But things are defined by their working and power; and we ought not to say that they are the same when they no longer have their proper quality, but only that they have the same name. The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole.”[2]
Ancient Greece is known for having a number of city-states (or polis in Greek) that inspired the above-cited philosophers, in their studies of human governments, giving the Western World its primary account of attempts at establishing statehood. In the same region, and a bit to the south, rose the first federating entity, under the able leadership of one man, Alexander the Great of Macedon[3]. Alexander succeeded by military might, to impose a system of government based on his authority, over a very large territory, taking the title of Emperor, and thus establishing what can be considered as the first state great monarchical state. During a somewhat parallel period, another great state was arising: Rome. Rome developed itself from 753-31 BC as a form of Republic establishing a strong and regulated administration that could enforce the decision of the metropolis in all its colonies and dependencies, with the same strength, as if they were enforced in the city of Rome. Rome later one evolved to become an Empire, then a Christian Empire, and eventually went through a decline, with its remaining eastern part transformed into the Byzantine Empire, under Emperor Constantine. Throughout this Greco-Roman era, erudition was of the utmost importance, as the traditions were set by the Greek philosophers - and historians such as Herodotus - of pursuing scientific inquiry, developing the arts, recording events of history, and sealing legislation in writing, all for the benefit of their contemporaries, and for that of their posterity[4]. This is important, as we will see further on in the paper.

The fall of these empires created an environment that allowed for a fragmentation, and chaos in the former territories of the Roman Empire. Leaders of several entities asserted their authority, and there was room for invasions, and some of the institutional advancement that had occurred during the Roman era was lost. These leaders created aristocratic families, such as the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties, in present-day northern France and western Germany. It was not until the most illustrious of the Carolingians, Charlemagne, King of the Franks (768 AD), and crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by the Christian Pope in 800 AD, that some order would be reestablished. Charlemagne had the control over most of Western Europe. During his rule, we saw the establishment of a directive charter for the new Empire, the Capitulary[5], and it details things such as the strong element of divine right of the Emperor, the establishment of Christianity as the religion of the state, and the powers granted to officials mandated by the Emperor throughout the Empire the “missi-dominici”. Charlemagne is also credited for the establishment of an extremely important institution: public education. After Charlemagne’s death in 814, his son Louis I the Pius, could not avoid the division and of his Empire (817 AD)[6], and ordained that after his death, the Empire was to be quartered in such pieces that loosely form the basis for territorial claims of princes and lords in Western Europe, up to the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia.

However, since the fall of the mighty and federating Roman Empire, and the division of the subsequent and enlightened Empire of Charlemagne, and before the Treaty of Westphalia, often referred to as the Peace of Westphalia[7], the notion of statehood had been smothered, and reduced to signify only a feudal compact of communities, loosely led by a more or less powerful lord, that could claim no other suzerainty than that of God. The reference to God, and the attachment to religion, and particularly the Christian one, became paramount, and feudalism, a system based on ties of family, honor and class hierarchy, became the main mean of government. Increasingly, there was a rise of Absolutism, as several lords started to rely on the more powerful lords, the Kings, to protect them from the various threats they faced from the inside, and particularly from the outside. Eventually, the power became centralized in the hands of the kings, creating de facto states that corresponded to the lands of the lords over which they gained absolute suzerainty, or that they annexed in battle. This created an environment prone to military and territorial tensions, which led to the Thirty Year war, that was ended by the above mentioned Treaty.

It is not my intention to simply give a lesson of history. But it is important that we realize that the origin of the state borders decided by the negotiators of the Treaty of Westphalia, are extremely complex, and are the result of long processes, internal to the Western World. A look at the Treaty itself, and the various disputes that it settles, does give an idea of that complexity. The Kings and Statesmen, who gained an increased power over their subjects by this treaty, had now a mutually accepted basis for the legitimacy of the states that they ruled. With a few modifications, the borders of those states constitute the borders of states in present day Europe.

When we consider Africa, on the other hand, the history lesson is harder to administer, as the traditions within several societies in Africa, has been an oral one, and several elements of history, the most important of which was colonialism, made impossible to be transmitted for several years. Thus there is a problem – decreasing, yet still existing – of lack of information on the past experiences the various peoples of Africa. Nevertheless, we find that Herodotus, Greek historians mentioned earlier, mentions in his Histories, the Ancient people of Egypt and Libya[8]. We also find in the works of Arab historians such as Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Battuta, some accounts of the African experiences in government and statehood. More recently, in the 20th century, Senegalese historian Cheick Anta Diop has challenged common claims on African history, by attempting to reestablish the truth behind the history, the truth that Western domination had eroded over the years. An example that Diop refers to constantly is that of the de-africanization of the kingdoms of Ancient Egypt. Western historians have attempted over the years to make a separate entity out of Egypt, as a beacon of White Western culture in ‘uncivilized’ Africa. Interestingly enough, he makes a reference to Herodotus, by saying that "the Greek writer (…) may be mistaken when he reports the customs of a people. But one must grant that he was at least capable of recognizing the skin color of the inhabitants of countries he visited."[9] This is in response to the following sentence in Histories: “They have the same tint of skin which approaches that of the Ethiopians”. What Cheick Anta Diop wants to show here, is the manipulation that often occurs when we look at African history from a western perspective.

The above notwithstanding, recent inquiries have allowed to establish the existence, at various times of history between 2700 BC and 1750 AD, of such large states as the various transformations of Ancient Egypt, Axum and Ethiopia, the Empire of Ghana, the Mali Empire, The Songhai Kingdom, The Kongo Kingdom, Great Zimbabwe, the Zulu kingdom, and several other city-states and acephalous organized societies. The dates here are chosen on the basis of the approximate creation of the first dynasties of Ancient Egypt (2700 BC) and the approximate date of the beginning of full-blown colonialism in Africa (1750 AD).

An interesting case to examine is the Mali Empire. There are three historical documents that address clearly the history of and the life in the Empire of Mali. One is the epic of Sunjata, by Djeli Kouyate, and transcribed by Djibril T. Niane[10], and the account of Ibn Battuta’s travel to the Mali Empire[11]. Both these documents are important because they establish two truths. The first document provides for an epic account of the formation of this African state, one that does not go without similarities to the prowess in the narrative on Romulus and the formation of Rome. The epic provides for a heroic account for the life of a figure that is proven to have existed in history, but also allowing for some insight on the type of state it was. The second document brings a more human and true historical account of life within the Empire, from a primary witness. And the type of interactions that one recognizes in this state, are normal for any kingdom:

“Thus I reached the city of Malli [Mali], the capital of the king of the blacks. I stopped at the cemetery and went to the quarter occupied by the whites, where I asked for Muhammad Ibn al-Faqih. I found that he had hired a house for me and went there. (...) I met the qadi of Malli, 'Abd ar-Rahman, who came to see me; he is a negro, a pilgrim, and a man of fine character. I met also the interpreter Dugha, who is one of the principal men among the blacks. All these persons sent me hospitality-gifts of food and treated me with the utmost generosity--may God reward them for their kindnesses!”[12]
Despite the evolution of these states in pre-colonial Africa, it is not from there that we find the source of legitimacy for the states today. The states that emerged from decolonization from the West, find their territorial, institutional and legal legitimacy in colonialism itself, thus creating what appears, in my view, to be a paradox: How could people fleeing colonialism, create entities based on that very same animal that they were attempting to flee? It is nevertheless true that following the invasion, occupation and exploitation of the land and the people in Africa, the Western powers needed to have an agreement on how they would settle dispute as to the rights and territories that each of them held on the continent. Similarly to 1648, a treaty was established, with similar language, among the Western powers, known as the Berlin Act of 1885 (ANNEX A). As a result of this treaty, the Western powers made claims to various territories in Africa, thus dividing them in several portions, which were then divided for administrative reasons. Hence Africa became a patchwork of ‘colonial provinces’ that will eventually form the 53 states that the independence movement has produced in Africa. And the states had to evolve within the principles of sovereignty established by the Treaty of Westphalia, and upheld in many international relations practices. Decolonization along the principles of the Berlin Act created entities of heterogeneous peoples, with little in common but the search for freedom from the colonial power, and that potentially had to compete in the diplomatic, political and economic arena, with countries of which the stability, the territories and the government had been agreed upon and established 300 hundred years earlier, and under very different conditions.

[1] Treaty of Westphalia, 1648, as found in Yale Law school © 1996 The Avalon Project. http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/westphal.htm
[2] Aristotle, The Politics, (Translated by Benjamin Jowett) Book 1, Part II, 350 B.C.E
[3]See PROJECT by John J. Popovic, Alexandros III Philippou Makedonon, Alexander III of Macedon (356-323 B.C.)
[4] See Augustus, The Deeds of the Divine Augustus, copyright © 1994-1998, Daniel C. Stevenson
[5] The Capitulary of Charlemagne (802), as found in Henderson, Ernest F. Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages London : George Bell and Sons, 1896.
[6] See The Ordinance of Louis the Pius, as found in Altmann und Bernheim, " Ausgewahlte Urkunden," p. 12. Berlin, 1891.
[7] See Footnote 5
[8] Herodotus, Histories, Book 2. Logos 4th through 6th.
[9] Diop, Cheick Anta, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, translated from French by Mercer Cook. 1974.
[10] Djibril T. Niane. Soundiata, ou l'épopée mandingue. Paris, Presence africaine, 1960,
[11] Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354
[12] Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354

Chap. 3: Democracy for States: The West

As stated in the introduction, several of the new African countries adopted fundamental laws that were often ‘carbon-copied’ on the constitutions of the former colonial powers. It is therefore a fair assumption to make, to say that in some respect, the aim was to create entities that would mimic the models of the West, in form and in action.

Instead, and this is critical, the first successful attempts at establishing Western style democratic processes in African countries do not occur until the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), and the end of the Soviet Union, of the Cold War. The following year, Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress in South Africa, is freed, and there is the first popular National Conference in Benin. During the hiatus between the independence (1960s) and 1990, most of the African countries were under perpetual dictatorships, punctuated with military coups, assassinations, wars, civil wars, and several other imaginable forms of strife. Many of those countries still experience those situations presently, despite an institutional context that has all the outside appearances of a Western democracy: constitutions, elections, parliaments and parliamentary oppositions, etc. How is that possible?

When we examine the process of democratization in the West, the first assessment shows that it was long, and tumultuous. However, Europe and other Western countries had advantages that African countries did not have. The most pre-eminent among them is what I call ‘the capital compact’. Borrowing the ideas of French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher Pierre Bourdieu[1], and other scholars, and modifying them a little, I want to propose that one the main ingredient behind the success of democracy in the West is their ability to ‘tap’ into the capital compact.

What do we define as the ‘capital compact’? It is the various forms of capital that the members of a society can have recourse to, to formulate, and then achieve their goals. Bourdieu recognizes three elements of the compact: the traditional economic capital, but also cultural capital, and social capital. To these, I would like to transform cultural capital into historical-cultural capital[2], and provide a definition for these forms of capital, and show how the West used them to reach its form of democracy. I also want to show whether the people in Africa had the ability to tap into this capital, and transform it into truly democratic systems.

Social Capital is a very popular notion among scholars. Thus, we are left with several definitions of the concept. Bourdieu’s definition is the following: “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition -- or in other words, to membership in a group which provides each of its members with the backing of the collectivity-owned capital, a "credential" which entitles them to credit, in the various senses of the word”[3]. Bourdieu establishes this notion in the particular context of analyzing the impact of the replications of social order, by the holders of that capital. Francis Fukayama[4], on the other hand, defines it as “an instantiated informal norm that promotes cooperation between two or more individuals”. Fukayama provides a more mainstream and more positive view of the concept. In order to have a functional definition, we must turn to the World Bank, who defines it as “the institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a society's social interactions.” This will include common governments, religions, clubs, tribes, families and other similar social constructions.

There are numerous examples of the effects of the social networks in the West. The institution of the Houses of Parliament, which evolved very early in England, are in many ways a living proof of the ability of people within that country, to create synergies that resulted in a progressive acquisition of power by the majority of the people over time. Since 1215, and the promulgation of the Magna Carta by King John of England, an ever increasing amount of Englishmen – and later Englishwomen – have gained the right to opine on, participate in and influence the political decision making process in their country. These progressions were the result of various internal confrontations and two great civil wars (13th and 17th centuries). But they were also obtained because of the intricate systems of interaction that existed among the people of all classes, be they the monarch, the nobles, the clergy or the common men. It can be partly put on the account of the feudal system, and of the various virtually non-violable social ties that it entailed, despite the inequality of power that it generated. Similar developments can be seen in the development of the politics in France, Spain, and other Kingdoms in Western Europe.

Additionally, the ties that existed between the ruling classes of Western Europe allowed not only for the wars, but for a great deal of networking between the peoples of these lands, and the establishment of mutually dependent societies, that were bound to evolve concomitantly. Finally, Western countries had the opportunity – especially after Westphalia – of developing their societies with little external oppressive pressure. I do not intend here, to claim that there were no wars, conflicts, trials or tribulations during this developmental process, as it would be untrue. But it is fair to assert that during the said process, when the people in these countries attained the level of revolting against the system, it was an internal revolt, against internal oppression and inequalities. This revolt was based in part on the breach by one member of the social system, namely the monarchy and its government, of the sanctity of the relationship, to honor their part of the relationship, thus disabling the ability of the other member, namely ‘the people’, to benefit from the social capital. Hence, the French Revolution of 1789 was primarily aimed at (re) establishing a social order that was fairer and mutually acceptable for the three classes in society, namely the clergy, the nobility, and the Tiers-Etat, which was the large majority of the people, and was asking for an increased representation in the “States-General”. When this was arrogantly refused, the representatives of the people took appropriate measures. Thomas Payne had the following to say on the French Revolution:

"This motion was not made in a precipitate manner. It was the result of cool deliberation, and concerned between the national representatives and the patriotic members of the two chambers, who saw into the folly, mischief, and injustice of artificial privileged distinctions. It was become evident, that no constitution, worthy of being called by that name, could be established on anything less than a national ground. The Aristocracy had hitherto opposed the despotism of the Court, and affected the language of patriotism; but it opposed it as its rival”[5]
The people therefore took the charge of creating a new social system. When this system maintained the monarchy, as it happened in England, it progressively created a situation where the monarch is dependent enough on the relationship, that he/she would favor institutions that are more inclusive of their subjects. When the new system expelled the monarchy, as it was the case in the United States and France, it formed institutions and relationships based on the only dependable members, namely ‘the people’ themselves. Both new systems therefore have a renewed ability to cash on their social capital, and as we discussed earlier, their cultural capital, and create new rules that are aimed at increasing that social capital. Thus we find laws, bills and constitutions that emphasized the creation and maintenance of a community of people.

Interwoven with Social Capital, is what I refer to as Histo-Cultural Capital. Bourdieu[6] also addresses the notion of cultural capital, but his definition is very limiting, as it is once again linked to a particular context, that of differential educational achievement and the reasons for it. Our interest here is to see how cultural capital contributes to bringing about Western democracy. Adapting from Bourdieu’s definition, I will therefore define histo-cultural capital as: the aggregate of the cultural experiences, the history, the intellectual and scientific advancement - as measured by literature (oral or written), art, pictures, philosophy, which are the trace or realization of theories or critiques of these theories, and problematics –, the religion(s) and the mind and body disposition of individuals of a said people. This convoluted definition can be simplified, though not limited, into saying that histo-cultural capital is all the elements that constitute and preserve a culture.

In the Western World, the development of society was accompanied, as stated above, by the development of a certain common capital, and in this case, a cultural capital. The turning point in Western Culture is the use of scripture. Written documents are the best possible way of transmitting and preserving the various specificities of a culture. It allows for a solid system of education and training in the ways of the culture, and allows for a more permanent and accessible account of history, scientific discoveries, and philosophical concepts.

As we have seen above, the thoughts and ideas of the Ancient Greeks Plato and Aristotle continue to play a role in the Western World until today. And the Western World has had the ability for many years to build on that cultural capital, with little interruption. The Roman Empire[7] maintained records of its deeds, and until today, Western people can have access to that common cultural patrimony, and use it as a foundation for the generation of new systems, new thoughts, and new discoveries.

Charlemagne continued the traditions of the Roman Empire, and provided that stability that would allow for the further flourishing of Western Culture and Society. He will sponsor the Arts, and promote formal education. By the 13th Century, with the numerous relations that existed among the leaders of the Western World, inherited from the Roman Empire, and that of Charlemagne, Western Europe had become a hub for competition among the princes. War erupted several times, and as we have seen earlier, we so far as owe the entire notion of state sovereignty to a war. The monarchs sought to rival their peers in grandeur, in prestige, and in the intellectual level of their court. The result of this competition was often beneficial for the cultural capital of the West. In the Renaissance era, the Princes competed to secure the services of the best painters of the like of Leonardo Da Vinci, writers like Machiavelli, architects, scientists and other, as they sought for their light of power and intellectualism to beam farther than all the other princes.

But, even more importantly for our argument, is the advent of the philosophers and scientists of the Enlightenment movement, in the 18th century. These remarkable thinkers generated the ideological framework that would result in the creation and the massive spread of Western Democracy. Rising on a background of absolutism, the likes of Rousseau, Voltaire, Hobbes, and Diderot will give those in the West that were literate, the tools to rethink the basic premises of their society, in order to produce one where they could possibly achieve happiness. They themselves were building on a common cultural capital, as they adulated for example, the ‘mixed’ government system of England[8]. As seen earlier, England was a pioneer in implementing popular participation, and because of the ability of the Enlightened to create networks across Europe, and with the new Western entities of America, they were able to spread their belief in the merits of that system, and the merits of moderating the princes, by increasing the power of the subjects, the people. They adulated justice and freedom for the people, and created an intellectual debate around the topic of their society:
“When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may anse, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner. Again, there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers. Were it
joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for the judge would then be the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with all the violence of an oppressor”[9]
- Montesquieu
“Is a simple or a mixed government the better? Political writers are always debating the question, which must be answered as we have already answered a question about all forms of government.[…] But when the executive power is not sufficiently dependent upon the legislative power, i.e., when the prince is more closely related to the Sovereign than the people to the prince, this lack of proportion must be cured by the division of the government; for all the parts have then no less authority over the subjects, while their division makes them all together less strong against the Sovereign. The same disadvantage is also prevented by the appointment of intermediate magistrates, who leave the government entire, and have the effect only of balancing the two powers and maintaining their respective rights. Government is then not mixed, but moderated.”[10]
– Jean Jacques Rousseau
It is on this intellectual and cultural backbone that the societies in the West will generate Western Democracy: a combination of history, ancient and modern thinkers, and a progressive, yet eventually total access to the lessons drawn from both. We must note, once more, that this occurs with little or no external domination.

[1] Bourdieu, Pierre, The Forms of Capital, Trans. Richard Nice. Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Ed. John G. Richardson. New York: Greenwood, 1986.
[2] Ester R. Fuchs, Lorraine C. Minnite, Robert Y. Shapiro, Political Capital and Political Participation, 1999, Columbia University.
[3] Bourdieu, Pierre, The Forms of Capital, Trans. Richard Nice. Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Ed. John G. Richardson. New York: Greenwood, 1986.
[4] Fukayama, Francis, Social Capital and Civil Society, The Institute of Public Policy, George Mason University, 1999, Prepared for delivery at the IMF Conference on Second Generation Reforms.
[5] Payne, Thomas, Being an Answer to Mr. Burke's Attack on the French Revolution, Part 10 of 16, in The Rights of Man, 1792.
[6] Bourdieu, Pierre, The Forms of Capital, Trans. Richard Nice. Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Ed. John G. Richardson. New York: Greenwood, 1986.
[7] See Footnote 8
[8] See Voltaire, Lettres Philosophiques, c. 1778
[9] Baron de Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws, 1752
[10] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right

Chap. 4: Democracy for States: Africa

When we consider Africa, particularly south of the Sahara, in the same context of access to social and histo-cultural capital, we can see a rather different story. In Africa, the synergy and the social networking of people existed within the various communities and states that evolved, before colonization. Kings and Emperors drew on that social capital to establish the legitimacy of their power. To draw once more on the case of the Mali Empire, Sunjata Keita used the existent social networks to establish his power, and later on, the great Malian Empire. It is by calling the leaders – or Mansa – of all the Mandinka tribes, and proving himself to them, that he was able to assert his authority over the entire Mandinka nation. The social ties that existed between the Mandinka were served by the arrival of Sunjata, as he would be an opportunity for strengthening the social Capital of the Mandinka people[1].

Similarly, in the Kongo and Yoruba kingdoms[2], the strengthening and evolution of the society was linked to an increase in, and conversion of the social capital, often by conquest and assimilation of neighboring communities. This also contributed in increasing their histo-cultural capital, as they gained knowledge from the people they assimilated. In the end, all of these kingdoms and communities were able to generate a histo-cultural capital that they could draw upon. They developed religion, or in the case of Mali, assimilated one, or several. Sunjata Keita created in his court the position of griot, which will in later years be adopted by several West African kingdoms. This was the Royal oral historian, in charge of making formal oral accounts of major events in the kingdom, and passing them down to the next generations, increasing even more the histo-cultural capital of that people. The kingdoms generated principles of government, which emphasized more or less harmony within the society, and some participation. In comparison to the Western World that we studied above, the kingdoms in Africa seemed on a normal parallel process of development. An interesting example is found in Southern Africa. In his Speech from the dock in 1964, before being condemned to death by the Apartheid regime, Nelson Mandela gave a heartfelt account of the systems of government that predated the colonialists:

“We occupied the land, the forests, the rivers; we extracted the mineral wealth beneath the soil and all the riches of this beautiful country. We set up and operated our own government, we controlled our own armies and we organized our own trade and commerce. […] The names of Dingane and Bambata, among the Zulus, of Hintsa, Makana and Ndlambe of the Amaxhosa, of Sekhukhuni and others in the north, were mentioned as the pride and glory of the entire African nation... […] All men were free and equal and this was the foundation of government. [This] found expression in the constitution of the Council, variously called Imbizo, or Pitso, or Kgotla, which governs the affairs of the tribe. The council was so completely democratic that all members of the tribe could participate in its deliberations. Chief and subject, warrior and medicine man, all took part and endeavoured to influence its decisions”.[3] – Nelson Mandela

However, this path towards development was cut short by the successive invasions, and subsequent colonization of the continent, by the West. One of the main effects of colonization was the severing of the existing social ties, by bolstering such aspects as ethnic group affiliations, and using them following the “divide and rule”[4] colonial policy. The colonizing forces, technologically superior, racist and avid of the natural and human resources that Africa could provide, needed ways to maintain the African peoples at bay, and dependent on them. It was therefore necessary to destroy the sanctity of the social ties, in order to create the necessary havoc. The technological and military superiority that they enjoyed, allowed them to guarantee many of the leaders of the African peoples impunity, when these accepted to furnish slaves, from their own peoples, thus generating the first fatal blow to their own social order. This set a system in motion that will make it increasingly impossible for African peoples to tap into their social capital, as the colonialists increased their grip on every aspect of their lives.

The results of this process, in the 1920s, were flailing societies that had lost much of their social capital, and were in the process of attempting to recreate it. However, the oppressive situation of colonialism made it impossible, lest it be the will of the colonizers. The process of socialization was monitored and regulated by the colonizers, to mirror Western society and White people as a model of perfection, while maintaining and nurturing a system that promoted the inferiority of local society, culture and people. Several scholars, such as Bob E. White, Gail P. Kelly or P.S. Zanhernuk analyzed the effects of colonial Western education on African culture and societies. In reporting these effects, Zanhernuk wrote:

“Okoth concludes that colonial schools simply ‘brainwashed’ pupils in Uganda. Imperialism, Okoth asserts, concentrated on the process of negating the personality, identity and dignity of the colonised people. The motive was nothing less than to create a ‘zombie’ who would be dominated, manipulated, exploited and oppressed”[5]
Thus they were artificially created immature societies, where the only source of social and histo-cultural capital is from collusion with the colonizer, and acceptance of the credits and credentials that the colonizer is willing to provide. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo – then Belgian Congo – a black person was not afforded the least bit of consideration, or acknowledgment of their humanity, unless one received the status of “evolved”; thus several positions, stores, cities, buildings and courtesies were accessible only when one was granted “evolved” (understand “Westernized”, or as they said at the time, “whitified”) status by the Belgian colonizer. In this case, not only did the colonizer control the colonized people’s lives and capital in an exploitive, supremacist and nefarious fashion, but they also established a system where the colonized are expected to be grateful to the colonizer for allowing it to “evolve”. An interesting paradox.

Now it is important to acknowledge that colonial education did bring into the relationship some technological knowledge that the societies previously lacked. And the colonizers did not always purposefully destroy the culture. It often came from the lack of acknowledgement of their unconscious supremacist thinking. Gail Kelly writes about the French West Africa education system:
“School texts focused on Africa, not on France, and they described Africa, not France, and they described Africans—what they wore, how they dressed, how they prepared food, the kinds of housed in which they lived, and what kind of work they did. The language used quite often was one of cultural distance and the cultural outsider, referring to “the natives,” “the blacks,” or simply just
“them.” Sometimes texts deliberately distinguished the “native” from the student.”[6]
Colonialism therefore created a situation where the only route for elites to emerge and succeed was through assimilation into the new mainstream white culture, at the level decided by the colonial master:

[...] Learning French would help move Africans along the path to civilization by teaching them to love their own ancestry and France simultaneously...Even if Africans quickly forgot the French words they had learned at school, they would not forget the ideas they conveyed, ‘ideas that are our own and whose use endows us with our moral, social an economic superiority’ and that ‘will little by little transform these barbarians of yesterday into disciples and agents.’ [7]

An elite emerged from the colonial education process, but it was an elite that was fed Western Culture as the basis of their education, while simultaneously attempting to secure certain rights and liberties for its own people. It is to this uprooted, westernized elite that the colonial powers plan to leave the countries that are formed from the decolonization process.[8] In fact, decolonization was rarely a result of pure struggle, but rather the result of negotiations between the elite and colonial powers[9]. These elites constituted what can be formally named civil society. However they were a minimal amount, and were not representative of a people mostly under colonizer defined customary rules. As Olle Tornquist, from the University of Oslo wrote, “in many parts of Africa, […] the early ‘actually existing’ civil societies were primarily in urban areas. The rest, the subjects, were under customary rule; which, however, was integrated, refined and made use of by the colonizers.”[10] When we consider all the above, and observe the situation in Africa today, one must wonder if the source of those conflicts is not found in this detrimental beginning of international sovereignty and democracy. In any case, we have seen that Africans were put into a position, during the colonial era, where they could not benefit fully from their social and histo-cultural (and for that matter, economic) capital.

Having established the effects of colonialism on the abilities of the Africans to get the best out of their capital, one must consider the post-colonial era, and examine the states that emerged from the process. Because the process was often an elite-centered process, and the elite was such a minority, and because the elite were looking for Home rule and devolution in the fastest way possible, the result were the creation of client states, that were centered around the ambitions of the elite. The artificially disoriented population was maintained in its disorientation by the elites, with aim of achieving power. As Tornquist writes on, “much of the nationalist struggle was about deracializing the civil societies—whereafter the world of subjects was either governed through clientelism or ‘enlightened and developmental’ one-party states. Democratization among the subjects at the grassroots level was rarely even attempted.” In an informal interview that I conducted with Prof. Freddy Matungulu, former Finance Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and presently International Monetary Fund officer, about the current conflicts in that country, I asked the general question of the readiness of the Congolese population for democracy. Prof. Matungulu explained to me that before there is readiness of a people, there must be a cohesive people that are aware both of their existence as a people, and of what the system has in store for them. At independence, the vast majority of the population did not have a say as to what was going to happen in their country, and the notion of belonging to one nation was elusive, as it was a concept that was not reinforced in colonial times, and the fundamental laws were the making of legislatures co-opted by the colonizers. I would even go further, and assert that even today, in most Sub-Saharan African countries, outside of urban areas, the notion of a cohesive people – let alone a nation-state – is a rather intangible and illusive notion.

We must however backtrack a bit in our argument. It would be unfair from our part, to claim that all the leaders in Africa were not conscious of their state of cultural domination. The nationalist leaders of Africa did in fact acknowledge their state of powerlessness, at the All-African People's Conference in Accra, in 1958. At this Conference, the leaders denounced colonialism, and imperialism, and set forth the basis for a new movement: Panafricanism[11]. This movement was one that advocated a paramount union of the new African countries, as they realized that the situation did not allow these new states to be viable. The idea was – and still is – met with much criticism, especially in the West, due to the wide variety of civilizations and cultures that Africa has born. In his book, I speak of freedom[12], the main proponent of panafricanism, Kwame Nkrumah, who went on to be the first President of the Republic of Ghana, wrote the following:

Critics of African unity often refer to the wide differences in culture, language and ideas in various parts of Africa. This is true, but the essential fact remains that we are all Africans, and have a common interest in the independence of Africa. The difficulties presented by questions of language, culture and different political systems are not insuperable. If the need for political union is agreed by us all, then the will to create it is born; and where there's a will there's a way. […]We have to prove that greatness is not to be measured in stockpiles of atom bombs. I believe strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African race, united under one federal government, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a Great Power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind.
-Kwame Nkrumah

It is however a fact that these commendable ideas often remained at the level of the high elite and the leadership, except when they were used, in very diluted forms, as populist means to rally the people behind dictators. Now, from our previous study of ‘Western Democracy’, and its development, we know that it does not only involve leaders and elites, but also actively, freely and consciously participating people. In this respect, we can say, that Western Democracy did not have the prerequisites to work in most of post-colonial Africa.

During the cold war, the states in Africa often became clear clients of either of the super-powers, the United States or the Soviet Union. To maintain this client status, the states had to maintain often very brutal authoritarian ruling systems, which would guarantee their total control over the population. This often implied actively keeping the people in a state of ignorance, poverty and fear. The former colonial powers, benefiting economically and politically from the relationship, maintained these authoritarian regimes throughout the Cold War period. The regimes needed only to build on the administrative and governing systems inherited from the colonizers, aimed at enforcing domination and power. They often-established one party states, with powers heavily concentrated in the hands of individuals, named Presidents to maintain the illusive form a republican system. Because of the apparent failure of the Western Democratic system, these leaders could argue that the recourse to authoritarian rule was in fact recourse to African roots, thus adopting a populist discourse that guaranteed submission to the leader. As a parallel, they also insured the creation of their own spheres of interest within the population, by emphasizing on the divisive group identities favored during colonial times, such as ethnic or tribal allegiances[13], further undermining the possibility of nation building. Its own elite was now robbing the people of its social, histo-cultural and economic capital. The result of these policies were the continuation of the colonial policies, that managed to artificially and intentionally maintain scores of people in poverty, helplessness, ignorance and frustration, despite the availability of income generating natural resources. Furthermore, they intentionally maintained an artificial sense of perpetual and inescapable dependency.

When the Berlin Wall fell, and the Cold War ended, what scholars have called the third wave of democratization blew over the world, and several African leaders started to make concessions of control and power, as compelled to by the ‘people’. It is from then, and only then, that we can date the true beginning of the process for some sort of democracy, as it is the first time that the people had a say, and revolted – of their own volition – against the injustices of the regimes that the client states imposed on them. The implication behind this observation, is that if these countries must attain ‘Western Democracy’, as defined at the beginning of this paper, we must compare the situation in several countries in Africa nowadays, with the situation in France in 1789, or in the United States, in the formation years of their democracy. We must not forget that the process of democratization, while it started in those years for those countries, was a long process, with several reversals. The Reign of Terror regime (until 1794), the successive Napoleonic Regimes and the Restoration in France, were eras of suspended democracy. Similarly, it took a Civil War, a period of segregation laws, and a Civil Rights movement in the United States, for all-inclusive democracy to come to its present (and still not quite equal) condition. What this implies is that these African countries must be given room and resources to make small progressive steps towards creating, through education, a grass roots level constituency for democracy, as well as an elite that has an increased stake at the success of democracy.

[1] Djibril T. Niane. Soundiata, ou l'épopée mandingue. Paris, Presence africaine, 1960
[2] Country Studies: Angola and Nigeria, U.S. Library of Congress, 1986-1998
[3] Mandela, Nelson R., Statement from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the Rivonia Trial, Pretoria Supreme Court, 20 April 1964. (As found on the website of the African National Congress, http://www.anc.co.za/).
[4] Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa, in The Invention Of Tradition 211, 248 (Eric Hobsawm & Terence Ranger eds., 1983).
[5] P.S. Zanhernuk, African History and Imperial Culture in Colonial Nigerian schools, in Africa, 68, no. 4. 1998, 486
[6] Gail P. Kelly, “Learning to be Marginal: Schooling in Interwar French West Africa,” Proceedings of the Annual Meeting on the French Colonial Historical Society 11, 1987, 302
[7] Alice K. Conklin, “Colonialism and Human Rights, A Contradiction in Term? The Case of France and West Africa, 1895-1914,” American Historical Review 103, no. 2, 1998, 429
[8] Crawford Young, The African Colonial State In Comparative Perspective, 199 (1994).
[9] See La Table Ronde de Bruxelles,
[10] Törnquist, O., Popular Development and Democracy: Case Studies with Rural Dimensions in the Philippines, Indonesia,and Kerala. (2002) Occasional Paper from SUM, No. 3, viii+150 pp.

[11] All-African People's Conference: Resolution on Imperialism and Colonialism, Accra, December 5-13, 1958, in All-African People's Conference News Bulletin, Vol. I, No. 4 (Accra: 1959), pp. 1-2
[12] Kwame Nkrumah, I Speak of Freedom: A Statement of African Ideology (London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1961), pp. xi-xiv
[13] Julius O. Ihonvbere, The “Irrelevant” State, Ethnicity, and the Quest for Nationhood in Africa, 17 Ethnic And Racial Studies 42, 54 (1994).


So where do we stand in regards of the question that we set out to address? The question was: Considering history, and the fact that most colonies chose systems of government based on the ‘Western democracy’ construct, were former colonies in Africa, at independence, in any position to meet these standards? Are they now? We have tried in this paper to go through the history of institutional development in the West and in former colonies in Africa, and to analyze their respective people’s access to various forms of capital, in order to assess: first whether both people were at equal footing when facing Democracy, and second whether the conditions were present in Africa to establish functional ‘Western Democratic’ systems of government.

The research that we presented above tends to show that there were several impediments to the creation of Western style democratic institutions in post-colonial Africa. Because of the special nature of the education system during the colonial era, subsequently under the colonial states, and even now, there is a need for widespread education reform. As we stated earlier, we want to generate means for the populations in Africa to enhance and ‘tap’ into their capitals; and an education that is centered not only on respect for the particular countries and cultures, and Africa as a whole, but also provides a truly global perspective, is the best enabler. Not only does it increase the histo-cultural capital of the society, and the individual learner, but progressively provide tools for the communities to compete in the global market. But that is another discussion.

We also find that the colonial powers did not have a will to bring the colonies to independence, as their continuous rhetoric during the colonial period, included an imperialistic view of African culture as an inferior construct, unworthy of consideration, and the African people as unworthy of total self-rule. The only interest that the colonizers consistently expressed for these Africans was for their land, their resources, and their soul. There is still a network of Western economic interests that tend not to be conducive to democracy. Additionally, the regimes born from the decolonization process were given no incentive to provide truly democratic systems, as it would ruin the goals of their own spheres of interests, and their foreign backers. It is from a combination of a wave of democratization in the World in the ‘90s, an increased education, the end of the Cold war and the resulting increase in global awareness, that the people of these countries gained the courage and incentive to revolt against the injustices of these regimes. Finally, the people in these countries were artificially socialized in a fashion that did not allow for a real common national identity, beyond that of the common rejection of their oppressive regimes. This leads us to state that the African states and their people were purposefully and intentionally under-prepared to the ‘Western Democracy’ construct, and that the post Cold War wave of change ignited, in fact, the first, homegrown, democratic realization of their nationhood. The process towards democracy in Africa, though beneficial, must therefore be considered a long-term internal process of self-affirmation, and the International Community must take this consideration into account when making policy recommendations regarding these countries. It is only with that self-affirmation that these countries will be able to deal effectively with such inevitable challenges they have faced, and will face in their future, as:

- Integrating ethnic and tribal identities into a larger respectful, positive construct of a nation, and a state (i.e.: this is one of the basis for the conflicts in Rwanda, Dem. Rep. of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sudan, etc.)
- Accepting and embracing the existing religious diversity (i.e.: this is one of the basis for tensions in Egypt, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, etc.)
- Dealing with the consequences of past and present racial prejudices (i.e.: this is a basis for tensions everywhere on the continent, but particularly in North Africa, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, etc.)
- Integrating national identities into a constructive Pan-Africanism
- Constructively building on African heritage
- And finally, developing, in Africa, a sense of global citizenship, in a context that involves not inferiority to, but equality with the West
This process requires effort, time, and resources. Once again, this process requires campaigns of positive – as opposed to oppressive – education, and civic awareness. Furthermore, it requires a progress in economic development, with a fairer and increased access to the global market, with all the steps that involves[1]. And the power balance that currently exists in the World makes it so, that it is a process that will not succeed, without some level of new and truly genuine support from the West. When such conditions are met, if the institutions of Western Democracy are as universally applicable as they aspire to be, and as we believe they can be, they will arise and impose themselves naturally in Africa, in time, and democratically.

We did not discuss here issues regarding missionaries, and their impact on the stalling of African societies, as it would constitute an entire different paper. We also did not expand here on the effects (positive and negative) of globalization, multi-national corporations, as it would also be an entire paper in its own respect. Finally we did not expand on the role of human rights abuses for similar reasons. However, we must acknowledge that these are also elements that have a potential to affect and/or hinder the path towards Democracy, and will constitute the object of future papers, particularly in the greater task to find the root causes of conflict. At present, the situation in African countries, particularly poverty and its corollaries of under-education, diseases, unemployment, inequality and war, make it impossible for the people of these countries to participate in the Globalization process. Until they take steps to change the present situation, the states in Africa remain players in the International arena, but players with an artificially, purposefully and relentlessly created and maintained inadequacy for the game played in the said arena.

As I further reflected on the topic, certain questions still loomed in my head:
· If we agree on this general inadequacy of these African states in the World system, and considering the network of interests, can we therefore say that it is the source of the present day conflicts?
· How do we generate incentives for Western powers to get in a disposition that will allow both the advent of African grown and inclusive democracy, while guaranteeing their continued interests in a fair manner?
· How does this reflect on the recent efforts to bring about democracy by imposition, in other former colonial places in the world with explosive potential, such as Iraq?
These questions will provide me, and hopefully others, with some food for further thought and action on these issues. As to the long process of democratization that I envisage, I would like to submit here (ANNEX B), a model that my peer and friend Cody Reed designed as part of her economics curriculum, to establish systematic steps to reach democracy for African countries. I believe it is a good framework to think about actions that must be undertaken to vitalize the process. In the mean time, I would like to end on a note of optimism.

I tried to have an overview of the general situation in Africa, and I believe I gave a fair account of the realities of the vast majority of that continent. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that though the majority of the countries continue to have doubtful regimes, some like Mali, Senegal, Botswana and South Africa succeeded in instituting increasingly functional democratic regimes. South Africa is even known for having the most progressive Constitution in the World, and truly abides by it, and should be recognized as a sign of hope for Africa. This progressive character is found mainly in the following excerpts:
The official languages of the Republic are Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu.”
-Chapter 1 “Founding Provisions”, Article 6, The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth”.
-Chapter 2 “Bill of Rights”, Article 9, The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996[2]

[1] See ANNEX C for an example of a Rostow type model for development in Africa, by my peer Cody Reed. This is based on a case study on Kenya.
[2] See Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996, in http://www.polity.org.za/html/govdocs/constitution/saconst.html?rebookmark=1


(Note: For this paper, all the sources that I quoted were obtained legally. I did not quote some other information that I received from reading certain books, and getting a general feel. All the sources I used are cited in my bibliography.)

Olukoshi, Adebayo O. (Ed.) - The politics of opposition in contemporary Africa, Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 1998.

Cohen, Robin and Goulbourne, Harry - Democracy and socialism in Africa, Boulder: Westview Press, 1991

Diamond, Larry J. and Platner, Marc F.: Democratization in Africa, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999

Huntington, Samuel P.: The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order, New York : Simon & Schuster, c1996

Friedman, Thomas: The Lexus and the Olive Tree Anchor Books, 2000

Mittelman, James H: Globalization: captors and captive. Third World Quarterly, 01436597, Dec2000, Vol. 21, Issue 6

Claude, Richard Pierre and Weston, Barns H. (ed.): Human Rights in the World Community: Issues and Action, 2nd edition University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1992

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Aristotle, The Politics, (Translated by Benjamin Jowett) Book 1, Part II, 350 B.C.E

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Index of Annexes

ANNEX A: The Berlin Act of 1885

ANNEX B: Multi-step plan to reach Democracy. An excerpt from, “A Critical Look at Donor Induced Democratization: Kenya as a Case Study” by Cody Reed.

ANNEX C: Collection of excerpts of Constitutions from Mali, D.R. Congo, France, South Africa, and the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.

ANNEX D: The Berlin Conference of 1884-85 and its Results, by the National Heritage Academies™.

(The annexes are not included in this version. They can be obtained when you email the author, at alimamina@yahoo.com)