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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:State and civil society in Africa
Author:Ceesay, OliviaISNI
Periodical:Quest: An International African Journal of Philosophy
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:political systems
civil society
Social participation
political participation
Abstract:Whether civil society is viewed as groups and associations pursuing common interests or as a dynamic offshoot of the State, there is, in both cases, the implied notion of civil society as groups of citizens who come together in an effort to influence policymakers in terms of their interests and aspirations. In an ideal situation, a kind of cooperation is expected between civil society and the State. In many parts of Africa, however, there is a clear break between the two. The author discusses the role of civil society (primarily to bring about mass political awareness and to foster the spirit of democracy) and the perceptions civil society has of itself (as a guard against the authoritarian tendencies of oppressive regimes in Africa and as a helpless organ of society in discharging its functions in the face of tyranny). In traditional Africa civil society placed itself in a rather uncritical and nonconfrontational position with respect to the State. Although colonial and postcolonial eras have contributed to make civil society more aggressive, there is still a tendency to idolize African leaders and to see them as patrons. Nonetheless, repressive governments have never succeeded in rendering civil society completely inactive, and current international support is a booster. African intellectuals can also play a significant role in furthering a culture of good governance. Bibliogr., ref.