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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Traditional and Modern Political Systems in Contemporary Governance in Africa
Author:Nabudere, Oani W.
Periodical:Journal of African Elections
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:political systems
traditional polities
institutional change
Politics and Government
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This paper analyses the role of traditional and modern institutions of governance in contemporary Africa. It examines the traditional institutions in their historical setting and the way they negotiated with the modern political arrangements under colonialism and later, during the postindependence period. Modernity was introduced by colonialism and was informed by it. Colonialism also defined 'tradition', reinventing it to suit its interests. But elements of tradition also continued to exist and be used by the people in a somewhat modified 'post-traditional' form. In this way, colonially created neotraditionalism and post-traditionalism came to exist side by side and defined the way democracy was introduced in the postcolonial period. Under the postindependence political order, traditional political institutions were either banned or tolerated to the extent that they were retained only as 'cultural' institutions. The failure of present-day postcolonial States in Africa to consolidate themselves is a reflection of these two historical conjunctures - 'modernity' co-existing with 'tradition' in a somewhat 'inauthentic' relationship. The real question is to what extent the traditional political systems can be reconciled with the modern political party system. Africa needs to redefine its political institutions to take account of their cultural heritage. Somalia, Ethiopia and South Africa are cases in point. Re-imagining the African State could take the form of removing borders between States and recreating political entities within a bigger State in which different cultural identities and nationalities are recognized in a system of integrative federalism. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]