|PROGRAM 6, IN SEARCH OF STABILITY
Mazrui looks at the history of governance in Africa. He starts with the failure of British democracy in Nigeria. The House of Parliament is silent. The political system that worked before colonization was based and rules and traditions that promoted social order and a sense of community. The Asante kingdom in Ghana continues a 400 year royal heritage where the Royal Queen Mother chooses the successor, and consensus among members of the kingdom allows the successor to rule. However, the Asante kingdom covers only a part of Ghana, and real power lies in a militant, socialist government which advocates improved efficiency in farming, development, and the civilians' right to bear arms.
The colonial Europeans established government on an uncertain base. While Europeans had centuries to modify their governments, the Africans have had only 25 years of trial and error. There is always the danger of anarchy, or too little government, and tyranny, or too much government. The standing army of soldiers becomes a powerful and potentially destructive force. Mazrui presents a pictorial representation of 70 coups in 25 years, most happening north of the equator. Millions are destitute as they seek political asylum or economic refuge. The refugee problem is growing.
In Nigeria, a big election occurred in 1983, where for the first time, instead of consensus rule, the Western-style winner-take-all method was used. Within a month, the military overthrew the government. The General who took over created a dictatorship.
In Islamic societies, military coups happen less often because there is greater stability in these societies. There is the uniting factor of religion. However, in Sudan, there was a civil war due to the north/south divide between the Muslims and non-Muslims. The British had separated the Muslims and non-Muslims to curb the influence of Islam, but united it territorially. A 10-year truce started in 1972, but ended in renewed fighting.
In Congo, order and a sense of community is elusive. In contrast,
Kenya had Kenyata as President for 15 years. He became a symbol of
stability as he headed a one-party state. Though he was
assassinated in 1969, the Vice President that succeeded him continued his
legacy of self-reliance and private enterprise. In Tanzania, the
Swahili language is the official language of government, allowing millions
to be eligible for government positions. A sense of community has
developed around the use of a common language. In this one-party
state, Tanzania has cultural autonomy. In 1985, the President stepped
down to allow the Vice President to take over.