Democracy and politics in home’s style. Written by Boureima Gazibo Abdallah
This article aims to bring out in the simplest way how politics is done in Africa in a democratic framework. The reasoning that will follow is strictly academic; no political actor, no political regime, no regional or international institution is targeted in particular. And since the article is about democracy, let freedom of expression guide these lines.
What is democracy? By definition, democracy is a system of governance, a form of political organization that is generally founded under the formula of Abraham Lincoln « government of the people, by the people and for the people. » From this definition emerges a fundamental element namely the people. Indeed, democracy rests on the people who are subject to power but also a determining factor in the acquisition of power. It is up to the people to elect the rulers and to change them, and it is this same people who are, on the other hand, subject to the authority they have chosen. Democracy also presupposes the rule of law, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of worship and the continuity of the state.
According to several thinkers, democracy is the most appropriate political system for human societies grouped together in a state framework. Unlike other continents, specifically Europe and America, where the advent of democracy was simply the logical outcome of a cultural, social and political evolution, democracy has been a colonial legacy in Africa. The process of decolonization aimed at creating autonomous, sovereign and democratic states in Africa. The democratization of Africa was not done in respect of the fundamental stages (since the model came from elsewhere, it would be only fair to follow the same steps) that should allow a better implementation and the functioning of the system to ensure the good governance that will lead to effective, just and legal power, but also to economic, social and cultural development.
When we talk about the difficulties of democratization in Africa, in my opinion without going into the heart of the matter, we must first think about two aspects, namely the state and the nation. What makes a good democracy if not a great nation walking in the same direction and aware of the essential problems but especially having reached a certain political maturity. At home, unlike our former great and powerful colonial masters, the state was born before the nation. Would you ask me how this is important in the process of democratization? In my humble opinion once again, the state and the nation are two fundamental elements for analyzing a democracy. The nation is the societal foundation that shows a certain maturity in several areas. When a society is constituted into nations, then it is ready for democracy. The nation gives birth to the state and thus creates a framework favorable to democracy. But when the state is created through a clumsy course as was the case in Africa and then give birth to a nation, I would not speak of impossibility but there will be difficulties in the march. The importance of the nation that I want to raise here is that the nation testifies that a people has reached a stage where the country is more important than the government. Becoming a nation gives birth to the feeling of belonging the state and the need to defend it until death. The multiple rebellions and divisions of some states in Africa tell a lot about the existence of a nation in these states.
In Africa, democracy has become something else. The new states thought they knew what to do, and the people master piece of the system didn’t know much about their role, more precisely about their rights and duties. Democratization was desired but how to get there when the selectorate was not listened and those who should lead were receiving orders from those who had once colonized them?
After a certain period of experimentation, we have seen the creation of many political parties that have attributed themselves a socialist, democratic, ideology etc… But a thorough analysis of these political parties very often reveals that they have no real ideology and can’t be identify within the great political ideologies known as right and left, which makes them unconvincing. While political parties are defined as structured organizations operating on the basis of liberal and conservative principles and great inspirations to name just that; in our countries political parties are assimilated to groups of individualistic and family interest. Parties are also in some areas the property of a person who sees himself as a spiritual guide without whom nothing will be done properly.
Politics has become a means of gaining power and very unfortunately also a means of appropriating it. The politician has become a vulture who roams the surroundings in search of the good opportunity that allows to gorge very easily. To be fair in this reasoning, the involvement of external forces must be taken into account because it contributes very generously to the disruption of the governance system in Africa, but also to confuse people’s minds, while nourishing the principle » divide to control « . No major decision is made without the involvement of outside forces that use multiple names to disguise their post-colonial enterprises.
Let us not forget those who respond to the name of defenders of democracy, our dear army. The army in Africa has always assigned themselves the duty to intervene to restore democracy by coups d’Etat. Sometimes applauded by the population but unfortunately many military regimes have emerged through this business. It is quite ambiguous to believe that military intervention is necessary in a routed democracy. A popular uprising will surely lead to a better result and strengthen the nation.
Our democracy is at the image of the history of our continent. It is often said that states are struggling to democratize in Africa but no one wonders if we need a democracy in the image of our realities. An African democracy, yes why not. But this point is unfortunately not enough to explain the dishonesty of our leaders and their followers and without trying to be reformist, the formula of Abraham Lincoln does not square with what we observe in Africa, to be so, the word people must be removed to define democracy in Africa. It’s a shame, but it does not bother anyone or lets say it just allows the most cunning to find their accounts.
Africa is a land of love where one dies without shaking hands with life because a politician has diverted the budget which should allow the supply of oxygen tank to the public hospital.
What is democracy without Monetary Independence?
Boureima Gazibo Abdallah