One-size fits all democracy unsuitable for Africa – Prof Lumumba

Pan-Africanist professor, Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, has urged African countries to build their own democracies with African characteristics.

The Kenyan Professor argues that African countries should not swallow systems pushed down their throats by Western powers.

In his view, the current democratic systems in Africa has not helped the continent to develop, and it is time for Africans to choose systems suitable for their unique circumstances.

“A Eurocentric or perhaps Americocentric democracy was handed and prescribed to us (and) we took it hook, line and sinker, and many countries adopted a multi-party democracy” with the consequences evident in current systems.

Professor Lumumba who spoke in an interview with Asaase FM, monitored by theghanareport.com, stated that “the so-called multiparty democracy has only perpetrated conflict and enhanced the ethnicisation of politics to the detriment of countries”.

This, he said, has been aided by “our understanding of democracy in Africa” which is “jaundiced by our training” especially those exposed to Western education.
He cited Angola, Sudan, South Sudan, Mozambique and several other plagued by war due to conflicts arising from disagreement relating to democracy.

In that vein, he said his views resonate with those of the Paramount Chief of the Essikado Traditional Area, Nana Kobina Nketsia IV, whom he claimed had said the time had come for Africa to have its own democracy in a manner that suits the circumstances of each country and that “democracy is not a one-size fits all”.

Professor Lumumba agrees as holds the view that democracy cannot be drawn from Western countries with one formula for all countries in the world.

He cited the US as having a collegiate system where “the popular vote does not actually count” when electing the president.

“Donald Trump is the president because he won in the college but did not win the popular vote,” he observed.

To buttress his point, he further pointed at the constitutional monarchies common in Scandinavian countries yet “when it comes to Africa we are quick to be told that democracy must have a certain character which is prescribed to us by Washington, London, Paris, Brussels and Spain”.

For him, it is possible for Africa to have its own unique democracy and it ought to be done urgently and encouraged to be implemented successfully.

He is not advocating relegation of multi-party but an open system where the people of a country would determine what works for them.

Proponents of ‘Africanisation’ of democracy insists that for a continent, which citizens look up to traditional rulers, western democracy is alien and needs modification to suit the continent.

Like countries such as Uganda, Ghana and many others, he said traditional rulers play a critical role in governance and could be incorporated in a manner fit for each country.

He was quick to add that it would not solve all our problems as conflicts will be present.

However, how countries manage conflict will show their maturity.


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