Politics in Africa: A New Introduction by Nana K. Poku, Anna Mdee

By Nana K. Poku, Anna Mdee

Democracy, prosperity and self-rule: this was once the imaginative and prescient of African independence. The founder of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, claimed: "with self govt, we'll rework Africa right into a paradise in ten years." a trifling 50 years later, Nkrumah's insurance turns out not more than dream. around the continent, the "optimism" that characterised the fast post-independence interval has principally pale. in the meantime, usual Africans lurch among undemocratic, unaccountable and unresponsive governments and a decaying conventional African previous.

• How did issues cross so mistaken?
• Why has the continent lagged in the back of others in monetary improvement regardless of its capability ordinary assets?
• Why are such a lot of African states vulnerable to clash? And why has democracy been sluggish to take root in a majority of the international locations?

The solutions to those questions lie in complicated interconnections among politics and society, among household and exterior forces. Politics in Africa deals a clean viewpoint that makes the continent's difficulties extra comprehensible, much less wretched or even intensely hopeful. In doing so, it exhibits what percentage points of conventional African values undergo and that, regardless of incredible worry, the continent isn't really a hopeless or perhaps a unhappy position.

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As Clausewitz famously pointed out, war tends towards the absolute. There is probably no war in modern history that has achieved its ‘aims’ without, at a minimum, either grossly compromising itself in the process, or creating a legacy that has subsequently undermined the victory. Even when violence is not actually used on a day-to-day basis, militarized forms of governance have a similar logic, which is towards a concentration of power, towards values that promote hierarchy, obedience, command and decisive action, and devalue democracy, dissent, consensus and patience.

In 2009, for example, the average GNP per capita in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries was $28,086, compared with $528 in Africa. This means that the industrialized countries are roughly fifty-one times wealthier than African states. 5 per cent over the coming years, it would take the continent some 135 years to reach today’s level of wealth enjoyed by OECD countries. Instabilities, adjustment and renewal | 39 The colonial legacy Concerns about the nature of Africa’s economic decline usually ­focus on greed and grievance, with their associated corruption, nepotism and violence.

By the end of 1985, twelve of the fifteen debtors designated as top-priority – including Argentina, Mexico and the Philippines – had submitted to structural adjustment programmes (Debt Crisis Network Staff 1985). Over the next seven years, Structural Adjustment Loans (SALs) proliferated as the economies of more and more Third World countries came under the surveillance and control of the World Bank and the IMF. Cooperation between the two institutions was brought to a higher level with the establishment in 1988 of the Structural Adjustment Facility (SAF) to closely coordinate both institutions’ surveillance and enforcement activities.

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