1.2.2 Modern States in Africa: the Challenge of Participatory Citizenship The state is the pivotal organization of any modern political community. It is said to be efficient if it has an administration that applies a secular and systematic approach in analyzing the constraints and visions of the ruling class. 11 Africa’s state system is a legacy of European colonization; a despotic and exploitative system of governance supposedly adapted and changed for the better with independence. 12 These factors include: ethno-political fragmentation, clientelism, dependency and underdevelopment. These asocial characteristics of African states 11 Bernard Founou Tchigoua155. 12 Abdalla Bujra and Samuel Lando ‘Introduction’ in Abdalla Bujra (ed.) Political, Culture, Governance and the State in Africa (2010) xii.
are the result of processes of political socialization dating from the colonial era that alienates rulers from the ruled. 13 Citizenship in a liberal democracy is the outcome of elaborate and long processes of political socialization that develop a sense of identity transcending traditional kinship and/or parochial loyalties. 14 In many African countries, individual freedoms have been curtailed by the state and the market has not been free to grow because of a hostile political and cultural environment in which the state plays a mischievous role. 15 Legitimacy has been defined as a psychological relationship between the governed and their governors, which engenders a belief that the state’s leaders and institutions have a right to exercise political authority over a society. 16 The crisis of legitimacy experienced by many African states has given currency to the argument that the unitary structure is unsuitable to African socio-cultural conditions. However, this leads to a more disturbing question, should African countries and peoples do away with the idea of the state in Africa? According to Archie Mafeje, taking into consideration Africa’s vulnerability to the forces of globalization, it would not be in Africa’s interests to abandon the state form, because the state is the most important single actor in the political and economic arena in Africa. 17 In his analysis of the transformation of African polities throughout the 1960s to the 21 st century, Said Ademujobi decries the gradual de-emphasis of popular participation in fashioning African countries’ development. He sketches three discernible patterns of development models pursued by African governments since independence. While the decolonization period was marked by active mobilization of African people in anti-colonial struggles, the democracy agenda disintegrated soon after independence. In the 1960s and 70s, Ademujobi writes, the features of a dictatorship of development paradigm emerged to the fore, namely: a highly centralized state, the replacement of competitive politics with one or no party system and the reliance upon unified bureaucratic structures that were exclusively accountable to the central government to define 13 Abdalla Bujra and Samuel Lando ‘Introduction’ xiv.