The State, Nationhood, Ethno-politics and Democracy in Modern Africa: A Philosophical Reflection

Cyrille Ngamen Kouassi


Following Ferdinand Tönnies’ distinction between community and society which could be translated also into the distinction between nation and state, it would be difficult if not impossible for modern African countries to practise democracy as understood in Western countries. If at all there is democracy in Africa it must be peculiar and unique. This is predicated on the fact that most African nations consider the state as something “alien” and contrary to their societal values. The main thrust of this paper therefore, is to demonstrate that the modern African state is the product of colonization and imperialism with capitalism as one of its direct consequences. Nationhood, ethno-politics and tribalism are what actually characterize African public space. Consequently, it foreshadows the basic tenets of Western-like democracy which is the respect for the universal human right. Democracy as conceived by Western countries cannot thrive outside the ambit of the state and this is anthetical to Africa’s societal values and politics.

Keywords: State, Nationhood, Ethno-politics, Democracy and Africa.

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