Democracy entails the participation of the people in the running of government affairs. The continent was benighted of this ideology, until the coming in of the imperialist. The continent was predominantly under monarchies going by the modern trends. The government system that existed was that of chiefs and kings presiding over a particular area.
The picture of these monarchies remaining the custodians of authority began to change when a new wave of ideologies started flooding into the continent. Subtle the imperialist was, the used the chiefs to impose their ideologies on the people through a system they called ‘indirect rule.’ When they were in complete control, they abolished the indirect rule, which meant that the chiefs and kings were under their jurisdiction. The oppression that the Africans suffered on the hands of the imperialist was enough for Africans to push their agenda of self–governance in the 1950s and beyond.
Understanding of democracy today is that there is a need to have many political parties that are participating in the governance of the country through providing checks and balances to the government of the day. However, correct this constitutional right maybe; there is always an underline principle that should precipitate the formation of a political party. On what ideological ground are the political parties being formed?
The picture is different today in most African countries; political parties are formed at will by any aggrieved individual and without any political ideology to sell the people. A difference in opinion between two influential members of the party often results in the formation of a new political party by the one who seems to have the lost the battle of the opinion.
Lessons need to be drawn from countries that practice plural politics with political parties that have sound ideologies that they sell to the people at every election season. It is effortless to engage in political violence when you do not have clear ideas to sell to the people.
Democracy does not just stop at majority participation in elections but those entrusted with the instruments of power at whatever level need to know the ideas they sell to people. It is easy for the electorates to hold a public office bearer accountable for failure to deliver the ideas that the party sold to them. Selling a person is a lack of a clear road map of democracy of the country.
Perhaps, Africa needs to understand democracy from its point of view and not from an imperialist point of view. This is going to help the continent and end the squabbles currently masquerading as democratic processes, yet they are shadow of what politics should be like.
By Moono John
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