African Political Thought by G. Martin

By G. Martin

Focusing on person political thinkers and starting with indigenous African political inspiration, the e-book successively examines African nationalism, African socialism, populism and Marxism, Africanism and pan-Africanism, concluding with modern views on democracy, improvement and the African state.

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In these systems, succession was institutionalized in such a way that family, clan, and ethnic competition for power was minimized. The African concept of power fused the secular and the sacred; the leader was both a secular and religious leader, and he acted as intermediary between the living and the dead—between the people and their ancestors. Indigenous African political systems were essentially democratic in the sense that (1) they were based on an elaborate system of checks and balances according to which advisory bodies—such as the Inner or Privy Council and the Council of Elders—acted as effective checks on the potential abuse of power by the leader (chief, king, or emperor) and (2) through the agency of the village assemblies these systems allowed ordinary people to have their voices heard and influence political decision making.

The period from the seventh to the sixteenth century witnessed the progressive Islamization of the states and societies of North Africa, the Western 40 African Political Thought and Central Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, the East African coastal areas, and the Indian Ocean islands. In these last two areas, Islam spread through the agency of Arab and Persian Muslim commercial networks and led to the emergence of the Swahili culture (a mixture of Islamic religion and culture with indigenous African culture).

Ideologically, Islam discourages compulsory conversion. Islamic political theory requires control of the polity for the Muslims, but it does not require bringing every subject of the Muslim state into the fold. The Muslims were more interested in incorporating non-Muslims into the Islamic state than in their immediate conversion. Thus, while conversion was desirable from a religious point of view, it was not necessary from a political point of view. Over time, the Arab conquest resulted in the Islamization of the majority of the North African population.

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