+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Western style democracy hurting rather than helping Africa---Dr George Ayittey

  1. #1
    Kobbie
    Guest

    Default Western style democracy hurting rather than helping Africa---Dr George Ayittey

    Western-style multi-party democracy is possible but not suitable for Africa.

    There are two forms of democracy. Democratic decisions can be taken by majority vote, which is the Western form. It has the advantage of being transparent, fast and efficient. But the downside is that it ignores minority positions.

    The alternative is to take decisions by consensus. This has the advantage of taking all minority positions into account.

    However, the demerit is that it can take an awfully long time to reach a consensus the larger the number of people involved. Nevertheless, the Nobel Peace Committee and the World Trade Organization (WTO) all take decisions by consensus.

    So too do many traditional African societies. Just because a group does not take its decisions by voting does not mean they have no understanding of the essence of democracy.

    In the early 1990s, following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the winds of change swept across Africa, toppling long-standing autocrats.

    In our haste to democratize -- and also as a condition for Western aid -- we copied and adopted the Western form of democracy and neglected to build upon our own democratic tradition.

    The Western model allowed an elected leader to use power and the state machinery to advance the economic interests of his ethnic group and exclude all others: Kenyatta of Kenya and the Gikuyu, Moi of Kenya and the Kalenjin, Biya of Cameroon and the Beti, Eyadema of Togo and the Kabye, to name a few.

    Virtually all of Africa's civil wars were started by politically marginalized or excluded groups.
    In the West, the basic economic and social unit is the individual; in Africa, it is the extended family or the collective.

    At Africa's traditional village level, a chief is chosen by the Queen Mother of the royal family to rule for life. His appointment must be ratified by the Council of Elders, which consists of heads of extended families in the village.

    In governance, the chief must consult with the Council on all important matters. Without this council, the chief is powerless. If the chief and the Council cannot reach unanimous decision on an important issue, a village meeting is called and the issue put before the people, who will debate it until they reach a consensus.

    The village assemblies exist among various African tribes including: the Ashanti of Ghana, the Igbo of Nigeria, the Somali, the Tswana of Botswana, the Shona of Zimbabwe, the Xhosa and the Zulu of South Africa.

    If the chief is "bad" he can be recalled by the Queen Mother, removed by the Council of Elders, or abandoned by the people, who will vote with their feet to settle somewhere else.

    Traditionally, African kings had no political function. Their role was spiritual or supernatural -- to mediate between the cosmological forces: the sky, the earth and the world, each of which is represented by a god.

    The king's role is to propitiate these gods and maintain harmony among them. If the sky god is "angry" there will be thunder, heavy downpour, floods, etc. That would mean the king had failed to perform his function and off went his head (regicide).

    Africans could have built upon this system. In the West, the basic economic and social unit is the individual; in Africa, it is the extended family or the collective.

    The American says, "I am because I am." The African says, "I am because we are." The "we" denotes the community.

    So let each group choose their leaders and place them in a National Assembly. Next, let each province or state choose their leaders and place them in a National Council.

    Choose the president from this National Council and avoid the huge expenditures on election campaigning that comes with Western-style democracy. Those resources can be better put to development in African countries.

    Next, let the president and National Council take their decisions by consensus. If there is a deadlock, refer the issue to the National Assembly. This type of democracy is in consonance with our own African heritage.

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of George Ayittey's.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Pope Bitterz D'Alomo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Asamankese,Japan
    Posts
    7,539

    Default

    Democracy is Democracy, no gray area in there whatsoever. Greed and avarice is what inhibits the african in pursuit of true democracy. The Eyademas,Paul Biyas and the rest of them are megalomaniacs who don't have their countries interest at heart.

    If the chief is "bad" he can be recalled by the Queen Mother, removed by the Council of Elders, or abandoned by the people, who will vote with their feet to settle somewhere else.
    Isn't it democracy you are talking about ? Modernization will not permit a people migrating to show their displeasure or disapproval however it's still democracy. If African leaders will focus on the development and improvement of their NATION and not get drunk with power, greed and self-aggrandizement, democracy will thrive in Africa.
    Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. ~Aesop

    Ignorance can be educated,drunkenness sobered,craziness medicated but there is no cure for STUPIDITY


  3. #3
    Kobbie
    Guest

    Default

    Well said, Pope. I think on this issue, the learned doctor Ayittey got it wrong. For him to premise his treatise on democracy as being impractical in our African socio-economic and political dispensation because since antiquity our national and societal lives have been weaned on consensus rather than majority view is fundamentally flawed at best. While I am convinced that Dr Ayittey meant well with this commentary, he nonetheless failed to address some of the central reasons why democracy remains a challenge to Africa. To this, I would like to congratulate you for taking time to eloquently sum this copious challenge up by saying that "If African leaders will focus on the development and improvement of their NATION and not get drunk with power, greed and self-aggrandizement, democracy will thrive in Africa". Certainly, democracy is not the issue; it is the intent of our leadership that should be accessed as the basis by which to measure the success or failure of democracy in Africa.

+ Reply to Thread

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •