Author: Ben Nwabueze
Category: Political and Current Affairs
Publisher: Safari Books, Nigeria
Year of Publication: 2018
Illustrations: No Illustrations
Dimensions: 229 x 152mm
Africa’s journey to constitutional democracy has indeed been a chequered one, in the sense of a journey marked by variegated events of a devastating nature. It began with a life of bondage under a colonial, racist and absolutist/supremacist form of rule that lasted for a significant part of its political history down to the attainment of freedom from colonial servitude, which is rightly regarded as a revolution or, at any rate, as an event of revolutionary proportions, like the initial colonisation itself.
The impact of colonial rule on the backward societies in Africa has given rise to a situation of chaos, and has bequeathed to the Africa successor governments the “tragically heroic and comically futile” task of trying to create a semblance of order out of this chaotic situation.
The experimental phase through which Africa is now passing is one that usually accompanies political transitions in all history; in the case of Africa, it is a transition from pre-colonial traditional political system to the modern state system brought to the continent by colonialism. The crisis in which Africa is gripped since independence is thus primarily “a crisis of institutions,” and only secondarily one of human failures. Effective institutions of government are yet to take root and become firmly established as active instruments of governance in Africa.
This book is, in essence, a recap of a story told in some of Ben Nwabueze’s earlier writings, mainly Constitutional Democracy in Africa in five volumes, Colonialism in Africa : Ancient and Modern in two volumes, and Federalism : Its Application in Africa. These eight volumes cover a total of 3,448 pages of print. They, except the last, have been out of print for some years now, and thereby become unavailable for sale to the public. Reprinting them confronts logistical problems.
And yet it seems to the revered author that the story they tell needs retelling in its essentials; it should not be allowed to be erased from memory. This book is an attempt to keep the story alive. Apart from the pleasure and excitement it provides, history of the past has important lesson for the present and the future.