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Rawlings Meditations on Africa?s Democracy

Comment: IS JJ Right?

Speedy Gonzales
2008-02-06 07:21:45
Comment to:

From the beginning of self government, the disposition of African leaders toward a full fledged Western democracy was non existent. For most African governments, Africans leaders neither conceptualized the true western notion of democracy nor succeeded in making it their own. As hard as they tried to make it work, it still remained foreign to them because of the way they were educated or raised to see leadership. There were no misconstructions of how Africans embraced fairness in their understanding of democratic values that upheld human rights with law and order. However, all the powers were left to the devices of leaders or elders who interpreted democracy by the ethos of their African perception of western values,” Afrimocracy”. - (a concept of practicing western democracy through value driven African lens.)
African traditional governance is rooted in top-down style of leadership and expectations. To site a few examples: The masses are not allowed to question the wisdom of their elders because they are older and are supposed to know better. Children for instance learn to behave in ways that conform to traditional norms and values of society that allow little room for growth or creative initiatives. Youngsters are not to be heard or seen when adults are having discussions or talks. Children are only good when they are obedient, not self willed or oppositional. This outright sidelining of children or the masses is more prevalent in the ways elders respond to new ideas from youngsters. It becomes a painstaking experience for elected officials to share unclassified public information though the public has the right to know how their elected officials are running the government. Do Africans need to redefine democracy through an African prism or “Afrimocracy” proclivities?
Maybe African leaders are presumptuously ignorant or uncultured in western democratic principles. Nevertheless, some leaders have learned to correlate democracy and leadership to being above the laws, being authoritative, autocratic, and magnanimous. Is it a marriage between the western and African democratic norms? What an aberration to allow elected leaders to become the smartest even if they have no vision for the people! What absolves African leaders from any wrong doing that they cannot be questioned, held accountable, criticized or fired? In Ghana, the recent NPP Presidential election never had a forum for all the candidates to debate issues to inform the public of how they intend to lead the nation yet a candidate has been elected out of the 17 contestants based on his influence. Is this democracy? Ghanaians have left their future to chance that the elected candidate will have vision or the will enough to promote the interests of all the citizens in spite of the fact that the elected candidate did nothing about 40 Ghanaians who were brutally murdered in Gambia when he was a Minister of Foreign Affairs. Are Ghanaians NPP delegates ignorant or dumb?
How can Africans understand a type of democracy that has a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other? How can democracy be translated as a ploy to persuade or to subjugate people considered subordinates to become subservient, or to use force where necessary to violate the sovereignty of less powerful nations, to seize properties or to attain ones objectives? I guess it is abstruse and it is this subtle aspect of democracy that Africans find difficult to understand and embrace. Parsimoniously, the educated elite use their knowledge to keep the uneducated down to have them cater to their needs. Needless to state that some Africans leaders are not progressive with their national agenda because the political chess game is to discredit whoever one succeeds in order to make way for one’s own agenda. All development projects come to a halt and experts are dismissed while incompetent square pegs have their field day through looting, kickbacks and appropriations.
Western Democracy is a new way of life to Africans. It has to be learned and practiced to give room for growth. By the way, how long will it take African leaders to know that leading a nation is not synonymous with driving in a crowded city street with a blindfold? Africans need to teach future leaders to espouse better democratic values in a National school of Administration. Future leaders should pass tests of leadership with at least a 90% score before attempting to run for office. Until then, democracy in Africa can only work when leaders respect human rights and uphold laws that govern collective interests of the people.

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02-05 01:49
IS JJ Right?
Speedy Gonzales
02-06 07:21