African Politics: From Colonial States to New Ideologies

1-    Pre-colonial Africa had permanent, precisely delineated boundaries.

False. Precolonial Africa lacked permanent boundaries and precisely delineated boundaries. The pre-colonial era had little demarcation as evidenced by free movement of people and rampant boundary conflicts. The colonial period saw the demarcation of these regions as colonialists shared land thereby defining permanent boundaries. Overall, there was little motivation for permanently demarcated boundaries in the pre-colonial era with little conflict in resources. Therefore, in this period, communities coexisted with little external fighting.


 

2-    Africa during the pre-colonial times was about winning booty: gold, slaves and cattle.

False.  The African pre-colonial period was not about winning booty, gold, slaves and cattle. Africa history is rich in trade and education.  Most notably, the Mali, Songhai and Ghana empires had established tertiary education and trade routes. Civilization in the pre-colonial era saw the growth of kingdoms, the conquering of empires, and the dominance of traditional African religion (Thomson 2010). The Iron Age is well documented in Africa where iron-working, honey and grains formed real commodities of trade. Indeed, Africa was well empowered above winning booty: gold, slaves and cattle.

3-    The most obvious legacy of colonial rule was the division of Africa into modern states.

False. The division of Africa into modern states is not the obvious legacy of colonial rule. The colonial rule oversaw the establishment of formal systems of governance, development of infrastructure such as roads and railways and modernization of agriculture. Colonialists farmed large tracts of land developing better plant and animal breeds in the so called “White Highlands” (Seton-Watson 1977). Overall, the colonialists brought civilization to the land of Africa thereby affirming that their obvious legacy wasn’t the division of Africa into modern states.

4-    The arbitrary boundaries imposed by the colonial powers created two major problems for post-colonial powers: irredentism and the possibility of internal conflict.

False. The arbitrary boundaries imposed by the colonial powers did not create irredentism and possibility of internal conflict in the post-colonial period. The lack of formal systems of governance in the African region lacked homogenous units with cohesive forces for irredentism. This is evidenced by the high number of nations that have retained these boundaries with the exception of former Sudan. There were no cases of irredentism as people joined hands to build sovereign states. As such this may be attributed to a lack of motivating factors thereby eliminating internal conflict and irredentism.

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5-    As well as producing arbitrary boundaries, European colonialism also reinforced the non-hegemonic nature of the African state.

True. The European colonialism reinforced the non-hegemonic nature of the African states in addition to producing boundaries. The colonialists exerted their authority towards all Africans within their jurisdictions. The lack of first-class Africans reinforced non-hegemonic nature of African state.  The new protectorates came under a single rule treating all Africans as subjects. Therefore, different tribes had to come together under one statehood under modern governments.

6-    A natural consequence of the colonial legacy for most of the Sub-Saharan African countries was strong links between state and society.

False. A natural consequence of the colonial legacy for most of the sub-Saharan African countries was not strong links between the state and the society. The colonial legacy did not lead to strong links between the state and the society since most African countries experienced infighting. This presented a new power struggle by the elite to control most societies which fought for own independence rather than the independence of the state. The desire for independence did not create a strong link between the state and society, but rather resources played a crucial role in creating this link. Indeed, such a case cannot apply where assimilation policy was employed as a form of colonization.

7-    In the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, states never sought nor gained the respect of the people.

False. In the context of sub-Saharan Africa, states sought and gained the respect of the people. In sub-Saharan Africa, states instilled an authoritarian rule where rulers sought respect for the state by educating their people on statehood. This is witnessed by organized leadership where all citizens participated in public events and hosted flag to honor their states. Indeed, respect for the state was the ultimate goal of successful governance.

8-    Wealth was what brought access to the state during colonial times in Africa.

False. Wealth did not bring access to the state during the colonial times in Africa. During the colonial era, the colonialists faced challenges in integrating with local communities. They favored the elite rather than the wealthy since they could be trained on White collar Jobs that were of administrative nature (Seton-Watson 1977). This is evidenced by the first chiefs who were the first people to learn to read and write. Therefore, education brought access to the state rather than wealth during the colonial times.

9-    One of the legacies of the colonial rule in Africa is the weak institutional development.

False.   One of the legacies of the colonial rule in Africa is not weak institutional development. The colonial rule forfeited their interest in Africa once countries attained independence. In as much as they may have other interest, they did not exert direct control of African institutions after independence. The independence of a state came with sovereignty to run their own institutions in their desired ways, hence their failures could not be attributed to the influence of colonialists. Therefore, weak institutional development does not constitute colonialists legacy.

10-    Ideology has been defined as a life-guiding system of beliefs, values, and goals affecting political style and action.

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False. Ideology has not been defined as a life-guiding system of beliefs, values, and goals affecting political style and action. In the context of Africa, ideology has closely been tied to an economic form of governance. In this case, ideology is based on economic systems of communism or capitalism. Rather¸ ideology does not affect political styles but the economic doctrine of governance.

11-    The political milieu in post-colonial Africa has been dominated by nationalism but also by tribalism.

True.  The political milieu in post-colonial Africa has indeed been dominated by nationalism and tribalism. This is evidenced by a high level of internal conflicts postcolonialism.  The interests of tribal politics had a role in defining the sharing of resources after colonialists left.  Therefore, despite a high level of nationalism by Africans, the fight for power and resource brought in tribalism. This is evidenced in Rwanda genocide between Hutus and Tutsi (Thomson 2010). Overall, nationalism has prevailed while also resource and power-sharing enhancing tribalism.

12-    Benedict Anderson talks about nations as ‘real communities’.

False. Benedict Anderson does not talk about nations as “real communities”. Benedict Anderson saw nationalism as imagined communities. He asserted that communities so large whereby people do not know each other face to face must be formed on the basis of imagination to an appreciable degree. This depicts nations as entities that lack real attributes of a community. Therefore, Benedict Anderson perceptions of nations object the reasoning of “real communities”.

13-    African socialism was an attempt to recover the traditional values of the Sub-Saharan states and to marry them with the technology and the modern nation-state.

False.  Africa socialism was not an attempt to recover the traditional values of the sub-Saharan states or to marry them with the technology and the modern nation-state. African socialism was based on the sharing of resources in a traditional way. This is in contrast to classical socialism where technology and modernity come to play. Therefore, the contemporary aspect of African communal sharing of resources defined African socialism rather than technology and modernity.

14-    In addition to African socialism, some African states followed either scientific socialism or populism.

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False.  In contrast to African socialism, there were no African states that followed scientific socialism or populism. African states were at a constant struggle to define themselves hence put their interests first.  Despite a few African elites, neocolonialism was primarily opposed and was not adopted in any African country. Indeed, scientific socialism or populism was viewed negatively in African society.

15-    A basic definition of an ethnic group would be a community of people who have the conviction that they have a common identity and common fate based on issues of origin, kinship ties, traditions, cultural uniqueness, a shared history and possibly a shared language.

False.  The basic definition of an ethnic group does not entail a community of people who have the conviction that they have a common identity and common fate based on issues of origin, kinship ties, traditions, cultural uniqueness, a shared history and possibly a shared language. The basic definition of an ethnic group does not share a fate. Fate is shared under holistic ethnic groups. In this case, a basic ethnic group is defined by a common origin, shared values, and probably language (Anderson 1998). Therefore, an ethnic group does not constitute fate.

 

References

Anderson, B., 1998. Long-distance nationalism. The spectre of comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the world, pp.58-74.

Seton-Watson, H., 1977. Nations and states: An enquiry into the origins of nations and the politics of nationalism. Taylor & Francis.

Thomson, A., 2010. An introduction to African politics. Routledge.

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