From what I learnt about the history of various regions of Africa, I am aware of several systems of governance that were in operation in kingdoms and empires on the continent before the advent of colonialism and other forms of external intervention. Some of those systems had sophisticated structures that incorporated checks and balances into the way that communities were run. The key point to bear in mind is the fact that many African nations of the past had clear ideas about effective leadership.
Then the colonialists intervened and messed around with our systems. They probably thought that their societies and political thinkers were the only ones capable of dreaming up suitable models. A generation of African political leaders invested most of their mental energies in struggling to gain independence from the intruders. Once this goal was achieved, the independence activists took over the reins of power in their respective nations, but many of them hadn’t given enough thought and preparation to dealing with what was required in the next phase of development for their peoples.
This situation created a feeling of being in limbo for many Africans, leading to a series of military dictatorships all over the continent. The systems of governance that have emerged in Africa since that time have tended to be poor imitations of European and American models. Is it any wonder that those countries appear to be badly run?
But there must be some useful ideas that can be derived from the models used by our forbears. Is any African nation willing to bite the bullet and take a chance on devising a system that is rooted in our local notions regarding leadership?
Yet again, we are distracted by Hollywood Blaxploitation, when we have the means to create systems that will work for our communities. It only requires some out of the box thinking and the willingness to experiment with a mixture of old and new ideas.