Courtesy Reuters

The New African Profile

The revolutionary transformation of the African continent from a congeries of passive, dependent territories into an association of active, sovereign states attained its climax in 1960. At the end of 1959, there were only nine independent states on the continent; a year later there were 27. Even without the additions that occurred during 1961, sovereign states became the majority on the African continent as against a minority of colonial or quasi-colonial territories. The revolution of African independence had become an objective fact.

After a year, the question may be asked: How are these new states faring in their independence? How are their constitutions working out in relation to the needs and aspirations of their people? What is the pattern, if any, of the constitutional system which is evolving and what is the shape of the African profile that is emerging? A comprehensive answer to these questions would require a review not only of the political activities of the new states, but also of what they are doing in economic, social, cultural and spiritual realms. Although this obviously cannot be undertaken here, we may find a partial answer by examining some of the problems, contradictions and inconsistencies bequeathed to us by colonial rule, or created by independence itself, and the manner in which they are being solved or reconciled.

Perhaps the most fundamental problem that has confronted the newly independent states is the difficult task of fitting their people to the alien constitutions which have been adopted. The colonial powers have greatly influenced the former colonies in the making of their constitutions. The educated élite in the colonial territory and the representatives of the metropolitan country who negotiated and drafted the constitutions had both been bred in the climate of the metropolitan constitution and were ad idem in the belief that a carbon copy of that constitution was all that was required. Little did they realize that their outlook on life generally was completely foreign to that of the ordinary citizens of the colony. In the

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