18 February 2010

Book chapter: Elective Aristocracy as a Form of Government for African Nations

Bekeh Ukelina Utietiang's book "Afridentity: Essays on Africa" (2nd edition; Africa Reads Books, 2007) includes a chapter on the failure of democracy in that continent and the solution he proposes, "Elective Aristocracy as a Form of Government for African Nations" (pp. 99-109).

Excerpts: "African politics today is perverted and highly trivialized; corrupt people have been chosen to govern, and massive riggings and irregularities accompany the elections. [...] They are not just an African problem, however, but are common in other nations in the world where democracy is forced on the people. [...] Ideally, politics is inseparable from a people's culture; but colonialism brought to Africa a separation of culture from politics. The indigenous political culture of the people was abolished and a new political culture called 'Democracy' was introduced. [...] African leaders were ill-equipped to run democracy because democracy is alien to them. [...] One would have expected the emerging African leaders to return to the traditional African forms of government [...]. Chiefs and elders governed [...].

"We have always believed that democracy is not the best form of government for African countries to adopt. This position is contrary to what the rest of the world today believes. Most of our friends have become our foes because of this position. [...] There is no essay or presentation we have ever done that received as much criticism as our position on democracy in African countries. We have consistently argued that democracy is un-African and African governments should abandon the pursuit of it in favor of a traditional African form of government. [...] Our experiences in Africa in the last forty years or more have clearly shown that democracy is not for Africa. [...] African leaders[' ...] projects are not geared towards helping the common African but in [sic] aping the Europeans."

At the end of this chapter, Utietiang refers to an earlier book which may contain a more extensive exposition of his arguments against democracy, "Rediscovering Our Identity as Africans: Awareness"
(Ibadan, Nigeria: Schoen Publishers, 2000).

While that book may be hard to come by, the later book is fully searchable on Google Book Search (including full table of contents):


Nigerian-born Bekeh Ukelina Utietang is a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, USA.

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