The several factors that have been adduced for the failure of the post-colonial African states.


Critically evaluate the several factors that have been adduced for the failure of the post-colonial African states.


  The colonial state was absolute and arbitrary

  Political independence only brought changes in the composition of state managers

  The state continued to be totalistic in scope (statist economy)

 The state continued to present itself as an apparatus of violence

 Its narrow social base was not broadened

 Just like the colonial state, it continued to rely on coercion for compliance rather than authority

 All these were so because political independence in Africa was short of being the neroic achievement that was touted, but a convenience deradicalization by accommodation and integration of the political elites

These elites desirous of retaining power, were not interested in broadening the social bases of state power nor serving the general interests of the people

 The only change that occurred, was the proliferation and intensification of conflicts within the nationalist coalitions

 The nationalists movements had been a coalition of disparate groups united by common grievance against colonial oppression

 Thus, solidarity weakened as the reality of independence dawned

 Who controls the enormous power of state as the colonialists recedes, created tension and conflicts among factions of the nationalist movements

 The forces of centrifugalism within the coalition became prominent as political competition arises from mutual alienation

 More value was placed on capture of political power as the inevitability of pulling apart within the nationalist coalition became manifest

 Along with this was the fear that gripped factional members of the consequences of losing to rivals

 It was this that elevated the premium placed on political power

 Given these scenario, the rival elites has no choice but to politicize national, ethnic and communal formations in their quest for power

 This weakening of a cross national and ethnic solidarity was at a great cost

 This is because it engendered strong divisions and exclusivity in the society that further intensified political competition

 This tendency reinforced the use of state power to strengthen the material base of these ruling elites so as to sustain their hold on power

 The result is the manipulation of primordial division which promoted outbreak of conflicts across the length and breadth of Africa.

But why has the African state failed to deliver?

 First is that the inherited state at independence was a violent and undemocratic and privatized structure

 The state was not designed for efficient delivery of services

 The state was insensitive to local needs and values

 It imposed taxes, levies, fees and laws at will without consultation

 Its primary concern was the maximization of profit and extraction of surplus to satisfy the interest of metropolitan state and dominant classes

 It relied on extreme force and used its military power to visit violence on African communities without hesitation

 Its economic, political and social programme were informed by a pathological fixation on satisfying the greed of Europeans merchants and consumers

 This state structure was not dismantled at independence

 Therefore the post-colonial state lacked autonomy and legitimacy

 It relied on manipulation and intimidation

 It became an instrument of accumulation for a weak capitalists class

 It was this character of the state that turned it into an arena of struggle between groups

 Their concern being how to penetrate it and use it to support all sorts of primordial claims.

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