Loading...

POLSC325: African Politics

Unit 2: The Trajectory of African Politics in the Post-Colonial Era   The post-colonial independence period was a time of euphoria and hope—at least for those who would take on the reins of power.  It became apparent that the consolidation of statehood in the post-colonial period took longer and was more violent for some countries than it was for others.  As African states earned their independence, they often adopted characteristics of modern Western Europe, developing mixed capitalist economies, interventionist government, and multi-party politics.  Many of these characteristics changed in the first two decades of independence. The competition between Cold War super powers played out on the continent; multi-party politics yielded to single-party rule and clientelism; in some cases, an activist state became oppressive; military coups  subverted civilian rule; nationalism competed with ethnic and religious sub-national interests for legitimacy; and economies that were once on par with many states in Asiasuccumbed todisrepair, dependency, and debt.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit should take you 14.25 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2:2: 2.75 hours

☐    Subunit 2:3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2:4: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2:5: 7.5 hours

☐    Subunit 2.6: 1 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Describe the political and economic conditions and dynamics of the immediate post-colonial period in Africa. - Explain what led to a rise in military and authoritarian rule in Africa. - Define clientelism, patronage, and praetorianism and explain how they led to state failure.

2.1 Overview   - Reading: Saylor Foundation’s “Overview of Politics in the Post-Colonial Era” Link: Saylor Foundation’s “Overview of Politics in the Post-Colonial Era” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the article in its entirety for an overview of the materials covered in this unit.
 
This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.

2.2 From Early Democracies to Autocratic Rule   - Reading: From Early Democracies to Autocratic Rule Link: BBC World Service’s The Story of Africa: “Independence”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please peruse the various entries (click on the items in the index on the right side) in the chapter on independence of the BBC’s Story of Africa. This chapter provides you with an overview of dynamics leading to independence as well as the immediate challenges faced by African leadership. Pay particular close attention to the entries on the nation state, post independence, and one party states. Several of the factual information and trends and patterns will be explored more thoroughly in subsequent readings.
 
This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: The Nordic Africa Institute: Dr. Henning Melber’s “Liberation without Democracy? Flaws of Post-colonial Systems in Southern Africa” Link: The Nordic Africa Institute: Dr. Henning Melber’s “Liberation without Democracy? Flaws of Post-colonial Systems in Southern Africa” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: The link above takes you to a list of publications by Sweden’s Nordic Africa Institute.  Please click on the title of the article to access the text.  By the mid 1960s, more than 40 African states had freed themselves from colonial rule and drafted democratic constitutions.  Many of these new states emerged after multiparty elections brought new African-led governments to power.  However, most of the regimes collapsed and reverted to military or authoritarian rule.  Others degenerated into one-party rule, marginalizing or banning opposition parties.   In this unit, you will study the political process that led to the reversal of democracy and the emergence of various forms of authoritarianism. . 
     
    This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: The New York Times: Howard W. French’s “Anatomy of an Autocracy: Mobutu's 32-Year Reign” Link: The New York Times: Howard W. French’s “Anatomy of an Autocracy: Mobutu's 32-Year Reign” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above to access the special report published in 1997 on the occasion of Mobutu’s oust from power.  Mobutu, perhaps Africa’s most notorious political figure in the post-colonial period, epitomizes autocratic leadership.  This article chronicles his rise to power, political machinations, and eventual downfall.  Pay attention to the ways in which Mobutu manipulated ostensibly ‘democratic’ institution.
     
    This reading should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.3 The African Single Party State   - Reading: African Studies Quarterly: Elliot P. Skinner’s “African Political Cultures and the Problems of Government” Link: African Studies Quarterly: Elliot P. Skinner’s “African Political Cultures and the Problems of Government” (HTML)
 
Instructions: In this reading, Elliot Skinner discusses the historical and political origins of the single party system and the rise of a political culture that suppressed opposition.  The individuals who led the independence movement eventually monopolized political power in Africa.  As you read the article, try to identify the economic and political factors that led to the rise of a single party system in Africa.
 
This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.4 The Time of the Generals   - Reading: GlobalSecurity.org: Major Jimmi Wangome’s “Military Coups in Africa--The African ‘Neo-Colonialism’ That Is Self-Inflicted” Link: GlobalSecurity.org: Major Jimmi Wangome’s “Military Coups in Africa--The African ‘Neo-Colonialism’ That Is Self-Inflicted” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please click on the link above, and read this entire article.  Economic failure, political instability, and ineffective leadership led to a wave of coups in the late 1960s and 1970s. In this article, you will learn about what precipitated these events. 
 
This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.5 Patrons and Clients: African Clientelism   - Reading: Afrobarometer: Philip Keefer’s “The Ethnicity Distraction: Political Credibility, Clientelism, and Partisan Preferences in Africa” Link: Afrobarometer: Philip Keefer’s “The Ethnicity Distraction: Political Credibility, Clientelism, and Partisan Preferences in Africa” (PDF)

 Instructions: The link above takes you to a list of Working Papers
on the website of Afrobarometer, a research project that uses
surveys to describe the political, economic, and social atmosphere
in Africa.  Scroll down to WP 118 and click on the title to download
the  PDFversion of this paper. Do not worry about interpreting
statistics.  Instead, focus on the written analysis, and read for
the main arguments.  Note that clientelism is a political and
economic system characterized by "patron-client" relationships. 
African politics is commonly characterized as clientelistic, as it
emerged out of the “neo-patrimonialism” system in which politicians
were given jobs in exchange for service to the ruler.  This system
of “personal rule” has led to corruption and the concentration of
power in the hands of one or a few rulers, allowing the state to
operate as a private enterprise while it pretends to be public.   
    
 This reading should take you approximately 3 hours to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: German Institute of Global and Area Studies’ Africa Spectrum: Ayokunle Olumuyiwa Omobowale’s “Clientelism and Social Structure: an Analysis of Patronage in Yoruba Social Thought” Link: German Institute of Global and Area Studies’ Africa Spectrum: Ayokunle Olumuyiwa Omobowale’s “Clientelism and Social Structure: an Analysis of Patronage in Yoruba Social Thought” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, scroll to the middle of the webpage to locate the article’s title, and click on download to access the PDF file.  The article will give you an example of clientelism in a single ethnic group.  Note that the social phenomena presented here can be seen in other societies as well.
     
    This reading should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: Afrika Brug’s Africa Focus: Kristof Titeca’s “Political Patronage and Political Values: The Developmental Role of Political Patronage and its Impact on Shaping Political Values in Rural Uganda” Africa Brug’s Africa Focus: Kristof Titeca’s “Political Patronage and Political Values: The Developmental Role of Political Patronage and its Impact on Shaping Political Values in Rural Uganda” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: The link above takes you to the table of contents of one issue of the Africa Focus journal. The article is the second one listed; click on ‘Full Text’ to download the pdf version. The author explores the nexus between local governance and patronage through an examination of two patronage systems in Uganda. Please pay attention to Titeca’s argument with respect to public perceptions of government responsibility and activity. In what ways has patronage affected such perceptions? Is this problematic for effective state governance?
     
    This reading should take you approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.6 From Praetorianism to Failed States   - Reading: Global Politician: Franklyne Ogbunwezeh’s “Africa: The Ontology of Failed States” Global Politician: Franklyne Ogbunwezeh’s “Africa: The Ontology of Failed States” (HTML)
 
Instructions: In this reading, Ogbunwezeh argues that one of the ill effects of colonization was the tribal-based political system that eventually led to the emergence of a patrimonial state.  He also claims that this political system led to state failure.  As you read, note the way in which he defines state failure and the connection he makes between governance and state failure.
 
This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.
          

  • Reading: The Washington Quarterly: Robert I. Rotberg’s “The New Nature of Nation-State Failure” Link: The Washington Quarterly: Robert I. Rotberg’s “The New Nature of Nation-State Failure” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: The above link takes you to the archival listing of papers published by the Washington Quarterly.  Scroll down to “Failed States” and click on “The New Nature of Nation-State Failure” to access a PDF version of the 12-page essay.  Rotberg discusses the indicators of state failure and its causes.  In doing so, he draws on numerous examples to illustrate his argument.  Please note that a majority of examples stems from Africa.  Is that happenstance or are there concrete reasons that account for this high incidence of state failure in Africa?
     
    This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.