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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Towards an African theory of democracy
Author:Fayemi, Ademola KazeemISNI
Periodical:Research Review (ISSN 0855-4412)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic term:Africa
political science
Africa--Politics and government
Abstract:The questions of the possibility of and the need for an African theory of democracy have been controversial in African intellectual discourse. Many African political scholars, politicians and indeed contemporary African States seem to have resolved that aping alien theoretical models and practices of democracy is the most appealing option for Africa. Others have felt the need and made claims for the adoption of Africa's democratic heritage and values, which are rooted in its traditional past, in order to resolve the continent's own kind of peculiar problems. While such approaches may be well observed, the present article argues that it is important to ask whether the persistent failure of democracy in African States is also related to African political culture. The article indicts the former approach as the residue of mental colonization and political alienation, and insists on the existence of a missing link in the latter's assumption and discourse. This missing mark is identified to be conceptual failure in exploring what an African democratic theory entails. The article argues that the absence of democratic theory in African political scholarship can be overcome by providing the underlying principles, meaning, canons and criteria of democracy in an African culture. It exposes the conceptual errors implicit in the conflation of democracy as a concept and as practised in different political systems. As a consequence, it establishes that an eclectic appraisal of African indigenous democratic values and practices as well as democratic ideas from other cultural traditions can provide a viable African theory of democracy. Bibliogr., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]