Democracy Not One-size Fits All- Asantehene
The King of the Asante Kingdom, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has recognized that the political dispensation and constitutional arrangements bequeathed to Africans by colonial masters is not fit for the continent.
According to him, this system has been the cause of the unpleasant challenges- such as military coups, civil wars, and extreme famine- the continent has confronted since independence.
He notes that the system of government introduced by the European colonial masters is not a “one-size fits all or a package for simple straight transplant” as he compared the imposition to the transplantation of a human body organ.
“I have always had a brilliant surgeon in my team and if I didn’t know, at least he would remind me that there is nothing like a simple transplant. So much has to be done to prepare the body before a transplant, otherwise, you risk the trauma of organ rejection. As with the body, so it is with the polity. However you package a system of governance, it will only survive in the right environment.
“Unfortunately, we in Africa have been obliged to succumb to the proposition that merely transplanting a multi-party electoral system is sufficient to guarantee the sustenance of democracy and achieve the development goals of the state. I fear this is a grave error and I say so, not because I do not accept democracy but because what we see only postulates a caricature of what democracy, in its fullest sense, should be.”
He holds that Africa’s experiences with the political dispensation and constitutional arrangements in the past five decades are not appropriate as they only focus on “winning and retaining political power that, considerations of national interest become subservient to considerations of political party and private pocket.”
While alluding to great Kingdoms that existed across Africa before the emergence of the Europeans, he noted that civilization and evolution were not absent in the pre-colonial era.
“Each of these Kingdoms and Empires had evolved through the ingenuity of their people, creating institutions of governance and organization appropriate and in many ways ahead of their tone. To the extent that human civilization grows from the interplay of forces, there is nothing to doubt the capacity of these kingdoms and empires to grow organically from continued contact with other civilizations without the trickery and treachery of colonialism. “
Solution To Africa’s Problem
His Majesty speaking at the St Andrews University Africa Summit on Saturday, September 16, 2023, emphasised that the traditional institutions of Africa must be used as the foundations for the construction of the democratic institutions of the continent’s new independent states as the British did.
“Democracy did not abolish the monarchy in Britain and the rest of Europe. Democracy was built on the solid foundations of enduring monarchy and much of Europe, and the rest of the world,” Otumfuo alluded.
After independence, he noted, the new African “democracies” left traditional leadership at the peripheries of national governance placing “serious constrain” on the role of traditional rulers in the governance of the nations.
He proffered that the offices of traditional leaders could be used more purposefully to facilitate dialogue between contending political actors to encourage consensus-building and minimize tension and acrimony in national political discourse.
“That would immediately create an additional layer of the support mechanism needed to sustain national cohesion and stability. It is an option derived from our tradition which would strengthen the foundations of the democratic state but which is not available now,” he added.
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