The Democratization of Africa: Dynamics and Trends.


Amtaika, Alexius, ed. The Democratization of Africa: Dynamics and Trends. Austin, TX: Pan-African University Press, 2017.

The chapters in this edited work focus on the democratization experience in South Africa and Nigeria; although a few chapters address that process in Botswana, Lesotho, Ghana, and Nigeria. The authors conduct these discussions against a background of intellectual and philosophical concerns about culture, development, and democracy. Like the proverbial question of the hen and the egg, this book grapples with the question of whether democracy underpins development or development engenders democracy. It complicates this discussion with a look at the role of culture in that dynamic. In an attempt to address these issues, the book gravitates toward the view that there is an indisputable connection among these categories. Thus, the authors agree with the post-Cold War scholarly view that there is a causal and symbiotic relationship between democracy and development. Other issues the authors deal with include freedom, equality, rights, responsibility, participation, representation, and effective institutions within democratic efforts on the continent.

The authors in unison reiterate that democratization has become the clarion call in nearly all African countries and that it is the precondition for maintaining bilateral and multilateral relations with--and the attendant expectation of aid and loans from--the West. Quite tangentially, many so-called democracies on the continent have become distressed, raising critical questions and concerns about sustainability amid great uncertainties. These are the underlying factors that lead the authors to argue that the democratization process in Africa is "moving forward backwards" due to a general absence of the prerequisite condition for democracy (xv). In analyzing the woes of democracy in Africa, they point out that the major political parties are owned by the most powerful and rich individuals, who manipulate the alienated masses. They also envisage democratization on the continent as experiments in transplanting western values with a reckless disregard for that which is African. This superior-inferior dichotomy is dubbed as the sure "recipe for the conflict of values which ultimately will lead to the total collapse of democracy" on the continent (xvi).

Democratic values in principle are...

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