Perspectives

Wake Up Africa! Western democracy does not work

By A. Akbar Muhammad | Last updated: Apr 26, 2011 - 1:48:31 PM

What's your opinion on this article?

akbar_logo_nw_2.jpg
(FinalCall.com) - The failed 2008 elections in Kenya and the death of nearly 1,500 civilians should have been enough to send a clear message of how Western democracy is not working in Africa.

When African nations follow the Westminster system of so-called democracy rather than a system that is self-defined there are problems. For instance, during the 1990 elections in Algeria, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won 55 percent of the vote in local elections. One year later in December 1991 the FIS won the first round of general elections with 188 seats outright, and was nearly certain to win an absolute majority in the second round. However because Western entities did not want an Islamic government ruling Algeria, the elections were aborted giving way to a military take over.

This was a clear sign of Africans implementing a process foreign to their own distinctiveness, and then interfered with because the outcome didn't fit the desire of outside imperialists.

Africans have suffered unwarranted bloodshed and instability from the many conflicts that raged on the continent in the name of establishing the Western form of democracy. How many more deaths will it take across the continent before Africans wake up and smell the coffee? There are several cases in recent times showing it's an erroneous belief that Western style democracy can work in Africa.

Exercising “democracy” in Cote d'Ivoire, the November 2010 presidential election results were disputed between the incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and his political opponent Alassane Ouattara, who UN election observers claim won. But when Mr. Gbagbo contested the outcome, France, the United Nations and forces backing Mr. Ouattara opted to take the country violently. On April 11 Mr. Gbagbo was detained by Mr. Ouattara's forces, however since the beginning of the conflict upwards of 2,000 Ivoirians were killed and another one million displaced according to the BBC online edition. How many more will die before it's completely over?

Nigeria is preparing for elections which started on April 9 and already there have been deaths. Every election in Nigeria since its independence in 1961 has been marred by use of a European system that categorically doesn't work.

It was also disastrous in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Uganda, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to name a few. All of these countries illustrate the fallacy of Western style democracy in Africa.

We must have a form, a system and a way of governing that considers our own culture and history. A democratic system that speaks to Africa's unique needs must be designed which includes the diversity of her people. History has proved that the political system imposed by the former colonial masters and enemies of African progress is flawed.

This alien system only opens the way for re-colonization of the continent and creates confusion. Then as Africans fight each other in the confusion, the outsiders strip Africa of her tremendous land and human resources.

Many highly educated and well trained Africans who have the professional capacity to build Africa flee to Western capitols in what is called Africa's brain drain. They leave because of limited economic opportunity in their fields which is an after effect of African leaders trying to shape a system to gratify the Western world.

Africa requires a system that allows for self-expression of the masses of people. Furthermore it requires leadership that's concerned with serving the needs of the people over trying to please former colonial masters who were their oppressors. The recent uprising of the masses in various countries is an indicator that people are growing weary of such an arrangement. However there must be a reorientation toward self, away from the Western paradigm.

The youth who are revolting across Africa say their struggle is for change. But the question is what kind of change will they make? Will it be the same sick system the West imposed on the continent? Or will it be a new system or form of democracy that attends to the needs of the continent?

The nations that emerged to the light of freedom in the last 50 years have confirmed that the form of government they acquired from Europe and America isn't working. This system keeps African nations vulnerable and allows the Western powers to stay in the middle of Africa's affairs.

The 53 nations of Africa have talented people who along with the wisdom of the elders can author their own system of democracy. Regardless of what you think of Muammar Gadhafi of Libya, he demonstrated the audacity to write in his “Green Book” another way of governing the people that empowers the masses to run their own affairs of society through peoples committees.

Africans can write and develop constitutions that include the democratic component, but also reflect the distinct needs of African people. Why must people fight and die for a “president” or a “prime minister” to be elected using this sick system that all indicators show is counterproductive for Africa?

Wake up Africa! The Western form of democracy does not work for you.

(For comments, A. Akbar Muhammad can be reached at AAkbar314@yahoo.com.)