Culture and democray in Africa: a philosophical inquiry.
Yaye, Christopher Oyoo.
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That there is an incessant struggle for the establishment of a viable and meaningful democracy in post-independence Africa is not in doubt. Contemporary Africa is characterized by political instability and abysmally poor governmental performance indicative of lack of consonance and congruence between traditional African political values on the one hand, and the practice of Western democracy on the other. In contradistinction to pre-colonial polity that had highly developed democratic political systems, almost all political regimes in post-colonial Africa have consistently claimed to be democratic and yet their rule has largely been characterized by political authoritarianism, illegitimate seizure of power, massive corruption, political assassinations, escalating insecurity, food crisis et cetera. These challenges are further compounded by the fact that the practice of Western democracy in Africa has created of the African populace a dichotomy, which is diametrically opposed to African humanism. Against this backdrop, the study employs textual and conceptual analysis of philosophical inquiry to appraise the practice of democracy; and investigate the basis of traditional African democratic polity. It also examines whether Western notions of democracy are well-suited for contemporary African polities by asking the following fundamental questions: a) What makes democracy democratic? b) In what ways can traditional African system of government benefit contemporary democratic practice in Africa? In view of the foregoing, the study concludes that: a) The failure of democracy to function properly in post-independence Africa is hinged on illegitimacy and ineffectiveness of Western democracy, which is an illegitimate colonial construct: b) For democracy to be meaningfully and viably established in contemporary Africa, it should be hinged on political communal existence of Africans, which in effect relates to equality within a polity; and, c) There is need for an alternative form of democracy in Africa hinged on African cultural values and practices. In the foregoing respect, the study proposes “Integrated Consensual Democracy” as an alternative form of democracy for contemporary Africa. It is argued that this is a viable form of self rule responsive to the needs and aspirations of Africans as it is premised on their cultural values and practices. The study makes, however, among others, the recommendation that further research should establish why even with communal solidarity, which is so widespread in rural societies of Africa, contemporary Africa is still far from producing modes of governance that the populace can freely accept.