Why is democracy in Africa different from what is obtained in Western world?
Should African version of democracy be different?
What should be the true meaning and practice of democracy?
Democracy is a system of government in which the power to rule is vested in the people. This power includes the right to make decision and implement it. People take decisions on matters affecting them. They make their own laws that guide their conducts. Democracy is a people-centred type of government. Reason Abraham Lincoln, former president of United States, defined it as government of the people by the people and for the people.
This is definition made easy. It is for common man in America to grasp the true concept of democracy. That it is all about people.
Why is it not government of the people in many African countries?
Why is it not government for the people in many African countries?
Some African countries practiced democracy even before the arrival of whiteman into the shore of Africa. The T.V communities, the Igbo communities lived in fragmentations which allowed them to practice direct democracy as was practiced in Athens, Greece.
In this system, all the adult male, who were sons of the soil, participated in the decision making. They all gathered at the village square to take decisions on the matters that affected them, and implement those decisions as well.
The coming of the whiteman with his imperial and colonial policies brought about the amalgamation of those fragmented communities that survived in true democracy. They were merged with highly centralised kingdoms and empires to form larger political entities of which Nigeria is a good example.
Today, most of these countries claim they are operating democracy, but the attitudes of centralised mentality of some groups have always smear the acclaimed system of democracy.
In many African countries, the following practices which are anti-democracy are brazenly carried out:
Institution of a weak electoral commission which functions as an extension of the ruling government.
A democratically elected president appoints relatives and friends into positions.
The judiciary and the legislature are pocketed by the executive.
Tradition of incubent or his crony winning elections
High level of political apathy.
Clamping down on protesters and oppositions.
Endless reigning of a leader in a democracy.
It is better said that many African countries operate Gerontocracy, Oligarchy, Autocracy.
Many claimed to own the country because they fought for her independence. As a result, they want to rule the government all the days of their life even when age is no longer on their side. They plan to hand over power to their sons. Countless countries have this experience in Africa.
Some others who were democratically elected find ways to perpetuate their stay in power. They kill oppositions, orchestrate change of constitution to accommodate them for life.
Some many undemocratic practices, and they call it our version of democracy. That every country should adopt what suits them.
Africans should learn to copy well, do the right thing, and together solve their problem to avoid being a theater of world interventions. Citizens should take over their power from the few cabal who rotate power amongst themselves and their families. Political positions should be based on merit and popularity.