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Politics/Government

Who is your president in Africa?

One cannot talk of the president of Africa. Africa is a continent made up of fifty-four sovereign states, each with its own president. This analogy might be more illuminating if one were to think of the different states in the United States as sovereign nations, each with its own president; that might give a somewhat clear picture of the situation in Africa. The United States has one president because the different states are united and there is a federal government overseeing all the states which are administered by governors. Some past and present African heads of states and scholars have nurtured dreams of a united Africa, but this is a far away dream as such a situation would be a threat to the stability of the West, and the control they have of the capitalist world. This is the case because were Africa to be united, it would mean so much power in the hands of one person or government who or which would be able to control, easily, the supply of Africa's natural resources and raw materials to the rest of the industrialized world. This will certainly tilt the balance of power, thereby transforming Africa into a major actor along the corridors of power wielding blocks. This is why African nations were left in the state of chaos they were abandoned in, in the name of independence. Yes, Africans did ask for, in fact sometimes had to fight for independence, but were the intentions of former colonialists nations otherwise, Africa would have been left in a better state than she was in when she was virtually dumped by exploiting colonizing nations that were frequently disgruntled at being forced to give up their sources of great wealth.

Are there governments in Africa?

Yes, there are governments in Africa, but, like with everything African today, since the colonial encounter, one talks about the traditional and the Western perspectives. The way African communities were structured was influenced by the people's worldview, but with colonialism almost every African community was forced to abandon most of its traditional perspective from which it looked at the world, and to use that of the colonialists instead.

This occurred in government or politics too. Even today, it is not news to hear Western leaders forcing different parts of the world to turn to, practice, and adhere to multi-party democracy, as if it is some infallible political system from God almighty Himself. By doing this, Westerners are being too simplistic. Different peoples have different cultures and so should be allowed—in fact it is their right—to come up with systems of governance that take into consideration the belief patterns and life style of the citizens in the countries concerned. This is what ought to be if the welfare of these nations is truly an issue to the so-called super-powers. The West—Europe and North America—cannot impose its values on other cultures. Things that work in the West are working because it took the West time to plot its way through different socio-cultural upheavals before getting to where they are now. Other cultures have the right to adjust to the state of affairs they find themselves in, navigated thus by the tide of events characterizing their existence on this earth, just as it happened with the West. Nobody can come into the United States today, for example, and tell Americans, even though it had been practiced before, that men should be allowed to marry as many wives as they choose to, simply because this may be a successful practice somewhere else on earth. Can one imagine the chaos this will cause when simply trying to introduce uniforms in some schools or the idea of having children pass exams as a sine qua non for promotion to the next class has met with fierce resistance in some communities, yet Westerners think it is okay for them to go around imposing their ways on other peoples while expecting these peoples to be grateful for this. Or are we saying might is right?

In most traditional African societies, governance was already far advanced before the coming of the white man, and it took into consideration the people's way of life. In some of these societies, much similar to Western kingdoms, there were traditional leaders who went by different titles depending on the people—fon, mfon, oba, and chief, to cite a few examples.

Depending on how these rulers governed, some could have been described as despotic, and others benevolent. Then after this leader, in terms of hierarchy, there was the house of elders, much like a senate elsewhere. Most of these governments resemble European style governments, but with subtle differences brought about by the culture of the people. This is what these people know and what has worked for them, but they are now being forced not just to learn, but to immediately begin practicing, a form of government that has little or nothing to do with their traditional values. How many countries can go to Britain and say they should stop having kings and queens in the 21st century, as those are obsolete and wasteful, and expect to be listened to? If this is indeed some practice that will die, it will die with time and not because some foreign super-power thinks it is wasteful and obsolete. The tradition of kings and queens is British, just like in other countries, and it serves their ego at least. Better still, try telling Britain to stop driving on the left hand side of the road and join the rest of the world on the right, and see how they would react. But listen to their politicians, like all those who consider themselves super-powers imposing things on other countries, especially countries in Africa.

Yes, there are governments in Africa, but many are faltering because they are practicing one system of government or the other, imposed on them by former colonialist nations, that means next to nothing to the people.

 
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