Rethinking Democracy In Africa – How To Develop Our Own Political, Social, Economic And Cultural Systems To Move Forward—-One of the momentous of the celebrations of the International Day of Democracy is the assessments of our democratic systems. Democracy is considered as a universally recognized ideal and one of the core values and principles of the United Nations. It is expected to provide an environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights.
Democracy is, also, a universally recognised goal, which is based on common values shared by peoples throughout the world community irrespective of cultural, political, social and economic differences. However, it must be based on each State’s own political, social, economic and cultural realities as stated in the preamble of the Universal Declaration on Democracy, “Recalling that each State has the sovereign right, freely to choose and develop, in accordance with the will of its people, its own political, social, economic and cultural systems without interference by other States in strict conformity with the United Nations Charter,” (para. 3).
After centuries of colonialism, African countries became independent in the 1960s, only to be ruled by authoritarian and one-party regimes considered immutable for close to 30 years. But, beginning with the 1988 riots in Algiers, popular demands for democratic reforms throughout Africa gained grounds leading to the collapses of these regimes.
Unfortunately, those changes culminated in the destabilization of authority and outbreak of tribal and ethnic struggles as stated by Mr. Pascal Baba COULOUBALY, Anthropologist (Mali) in a paper, titled- Inter-generational dialogue and Synergy for the future, presented at the Inter-generational Forum on Endogenous Governance in West Africa organized by Sahel and West Africa Club / OECD Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), 26 to 28 June 2006. That paper argued, also, that the endogenous fight for multi-party democracy was molded into western human rights demands that became fashionable following the collapse of communism.
It is worth noting that in the 19th century, Africa was going through the process of creating theocratic states when colonialists, with their armies, massively and brutally invaded the continent to loot (Coulibaly, 2006). The European assaulters, with different civilization, were able to create African State auxiliary to European State with its writing, languages, and cultures.
Through this method, Africans have been alienated. By offering itself as an unavoidable political and cultural reference for Africa, Europe has thrown into oblivion, in less than half a century, the memory of a civilization that was the cradle of mankind (Coulibaly, 2006). Furthermore, he contended that Africa is composed of more than 70% of illiterate and rural Africans, on whom are imposed 20% of literate people, who have been converted to exogenous values, but strong enough to impose themselves as the only models of community life.
Today, as we bear witness to the manipulations of the constitutions by some African political leaders and elites to accommodate their interests; we are also witnesses of the upsurge of peoples’ resistances in various forms i.e., civil strife, uprisings, coup d’etat etc.
It is time for we, Africans, to overcome our inferiority complex by stopping to apply exclusively the European styles of democracy. We must, rather, adhere to our rich endogenous democratic experiences based on our socio-cultural and political realities, while taking into considerations aspects of other systems relevant to our progress.