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 end, the constitutions that were made were not only alien to the nature and needs of the ordinary citizens of the new states, they were so advanced and complicated as to be completely misunderstood. The net result is that, in the absence of constitutions suitable for the people, the people have to be suited to their new constitutions. This arduous process is still going on.

In the British territories, for example, after some 30 years of colonial rule, only a handful of Africans had exercised the vote and this was restricted to people with specified incomes in a few important towns. The masses lived more or less the old traditional life of uncritical obedience to their chiefs and to the expatriate administrative officers, for the system of indirect rule perpetuated the old method of government by limited leadership. The Obas, Emirs, Asantehene, chiefs and district heads were the leaders of the people and commanded their unflinching loyalty. Contrary to the misconception of the uninformed critics, these leaders were not autocrats ruling by whim and caprice. They had their councils of distinguished chiefs and elders with whom they discussed issues and constantly consulted. The authority of the leaders devolved on a hierarchy of lesser rulers from the national level to the remotest village. Every ruler, great or small, was advised by his own council which gave him its loyalty. Both the leader and the council members were selected either on hereditary qualifications or on the merit of their past performance in the community.

With the coming of self-government, however, the alien system of parliamentary democracy, as practiced in the metropolitan country, was introduced, as it were, overnight. In the English-speaking states, party politics, electioneering campaigns, universal adult suffrage, secret ballot, parliament, ministries, the cabinet, the Speaker and the Opposition all sprang into existence as if by the magician's wand. The obvious underlying assumption was that a constitution which was good for Britain, and the facsimile of which had kept the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand together, must be good enough for everybody else. It was assumed that the greatness achieved by the colonial power had been due to the constitution under which it was governed and that the colonial peoples must submit to complete transformation if they wished to attain greatness.

Elsewhere, the constitution followed the French Presidential system. Chieftaincy, on the whole, had suffered a decline in the French-speaking territories, for there the colonial rulers believed in "direct" rule and paid relatively little attention to African political tradition. To this extent, the impact of an imposed alien constitution, introduced suddenly upon the attainment of self-government, was somewhat moderated.

Generally speaking, however, these facsimile constitutions have not been a tremendous success anywhere. The ordinary people do not understand party politics, except as a call to war against the members of the rival parties. The martial spirit in the people, which had become moribund or latent with the abolition of the slave trade and the stoppage of raiding expeditions, seems to be suddenly aroused by the coming of party politics. The truth about human nature is that adventure and war are more exciting and therefore more welcome than a life of drudgery and peaceful inactivity. The stimulus of a new world to conquer has throughout the ages evoked enthusiastic response. The unsophisticated citizens of the new African states mistake party slogans for a clarion call to war and they go into it with zest. The result is that the people who enjoyed peace and unity during the colonial days are now divided into political warring camps, sniping at each other and sometimes engaging in violent encounter.

The alien system of government by party politics opened new vistas of wealth and power to a people who had literally been starved of them. Everybody who could, therefore, has sallied forth along the road to political and plutocratic eminence. Those who found themselves in power have used every stratagem to keep themselves there, while for those in the minority no weapon has been too mean to employ in an effort to encompass the downfall of the government and to attain power. In Ghana and in some parts of Nigeria, supporters of rival political parties are constantly in conflict, beating each other up and wounding and sometimes killing. Nigerian national newspapers are regularly full of stories of partisan clashes which often result in casualties.

It is a source of constant complaint in Nigeria that the customary courts and Tax Assessment Committees which have been established in the Regions are manned wholly by members and supporters of the government party and that they use their position to victimize their opponents, imposing upon them arbitrary and excessive tax assessments. In default of payment, the victims face prosecution and imprisonment without just cause.

One would like to be able to say that these tactics are a passing phase and that, as political education and experience spread, normal relations will soon be established. Unfortunately, the politicians show no interest in encouraging such political education as might enable their supporters to overcome prejudices which so far have operated to their own advantage.

A careful analysis of party politics suggests that the evil is probably in the method of choosing the people's representatives. Under the indigenous African political system, the most common criterion in the selection of the leader or chief is heredity. However inequitable that method may be, it at least makes for stability. Once the leader is chosen, he functions for the whole of his life, subject to good behavior, and he therefore has no cause to curry favor with his fellow citizens. Any dispute about succession that may arise is narrowed down to which of rival candidates is the most entitled, and this is an issue of status. Once that is settled and the leader accepted, that is the end of the matter. Until he dies or is removed by higher powers, he continues to function without the fear of being defeated at the next election.

The system of parliamentary democracy, on the other hand, rests on the unproven theory that every citizen or taxpayer has a right to be represented and that he should exercise that right by direct vote for the candidate of his choice. No prerequisite qualification of behavior, ability or performance is demanded of the parliamentary candidate and everybody, literally speaking, is entitled to put himself forward. In an unenlightened community, it thus becomes expedient, if not legitimate, for any aspirant, conscious of his limitations and the electorate's lack of judgment, to use all methods available to get himself into office. Thus the two-party system of election lends itself to bribery and corruption on a large scale, and encourages hooliganism, and the invocation of tribal, racial and religious prejudices. These stratagems are indulged in by political parties and their candidates notwithstanding the written law which forbids them. And since elections are periodic, those who get into power want to stay in power; they resort to the use of patronage and nepotism in favor of their supporters and to creating an atmosphere of frustration around those who do not give them their support.

On the use of violence in furtherance of party interests in Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah wrote: "A campaign of violence developed in Ashanti where the situation became so desperate that hundreds of Ashanti C.P.P. men and women were forced to leave their homes and to seek refuge in other parts of the country."[i] In Nigeria, similar charges have been constantly made by various political parties about the plight of their members and supporters in the Regions where they are in the minority. The parties in power were accused of using such strong-arm methods against members of the Opposition that several of them were forced to leave their Regions and find temporary refuge elsewhere.

In this "War of the Roses," the party in power, having all the organs of government at its disposal, has almost invariably come out victorious. It is a matter for serious doubt whether any party in power in any African state can ever be defeated in subsequent elections. In the older states like Liberia or Ethiopia, the governments of President Tubman and Emperor Haile Selassie seem to run on incessantly. In Ghana, the methods used by Dr. Nkrumah and his party, the C.P.P., to liquidate the Opposition were a ruthless and arbitrary exercise of powers by a government which had overwhelming support. The excuse that the Opposition were resorting to methods unfavorable to unity seems very poor justification for arresting and imprisoning members of the Opposition, without trial, under the Preventive Detention Act. In Sierra Leone, which attained independence in April 1961, the members of a minority opposition party, the African Peoples Party, were rounded up and locked in jail during the independence celebrations in order that they might not wreck the ceremonies, as they were alleged to have threatened to do.

Broadly speaking, the African parliamentarian does not understand the meaning or function of the Opposition. He believes that once a leader has been elected, he is in for good and everybody must accept his leadership. He tends to regard the opposition member as a saboteur who should be hounded out of the political arena. The only place throughout West Africa where the Opposition appears to be happily accommodated is in the Federal Parliament of Nigeria. This is due, in large measure, to the federal character of the legislature. But the personality of the Federal Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a thoroughbred democrat, and the willingness of the people to accept compromise, both make a significant contribution. All things taken into consideration, however, the emergent profile of the African politician appears to be that of the leader who has no use and no sympathy for the Opposition.

Another serious defect of the two-party system, as it is applied in Africa, is its wastefulness in human and material resources. Owing to party antagonism, a government in power is never inclined to rely upon the administrative or technical skill of members or supporters of any rival party. In most places, the applicant for a government post is disqualified immediately if he belongs to or sympathizes with a rival party. Thus one sees the paradox of a country which suffers from want of managerial and technological skill, and which has embarked upon ambitious plans for development, excluding qualified citizens from service simply because they belong to a different political party.

The practice of parliamentary democracy itself is terribly expensive, especially under a federal system. Nigeria, for example, has eight legislative houses, which are likely soon to be increased to ten. She has one Governor-General and three governors; one Prime Minister and three Premiers; over 100 ministers, about the same number of junior ministers; and myriad legislators. The expense of supporting the formidable array of institutions and instrumentalities which are called into active play is enormous and it is doubtful whether Nigeria, with its comparatively slender means, can shoulder the burden for long. Each government, regional as well as federal, slavishly imitates the structure and forms of parliamentary practice of the metropolitan country. The result is that the citizens of Nigeria, who number less than the population of the United Kingdom, are called upon to pay four times as much for their administration as the British people. This is a crippling burden that threatens to overwhelm a young state.

There are one or two other constitutional problems which may be briefly mentioned. Since the powers of the different legislative and executive organs of the new states are set out in written constitutions, the task of interpreting the constitution falls upon the judiciary.

Both in the British and the French African states, provision is made in the constitution for safeguarding the independence of the judiciary, which is regarded everywhere as the guardian of the freedom of the individual. To place the judges above influence and corruption, their salaries are made bounteous. Appointments, promotions, dismissals and the general welfare of judicial officers are normally removed from governmental interference and left in the hands of an independent Judicial Service Commission or Superior Judiciary Council. In some of the constitutions it is provided that judges may not be removed from office.

The politicians assail this security in several ways. In Ghana, for example, by legislative adroitness the Judicial Service Commission was abolished and some of the judges are now appointed, in effect, by the President of the Republic. In Nigeria, some of the legislatures frequently exclude the jurisdiction of the courts by express provisions in the acts they pass. Also, new courts of a subordinate character, e.g. the customary courts in Nigeria, have been created, and these are generally placed outside the control of the Judicial Service Commission and under a politician, usually the Minister of Local Government. In these ways, the safeguards provided in the constitution are often bypassed and the courts are sometimes made an organ of political action.

In Nigeria and Sierra Leone, several fundamental human rights are imbedded in the constitution and a clause provides that any law which is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution shall be void to the extent of that inconsistency. Here lies an ever-present opportunity for serious friction between the judiciary and the legislature, some of whose members cannot understand why any limitations should be placed on the sovereignty of Parliament, or why an individual judge should be set above the collective wisdom of the legislators.

The contradictions and inconsistencies which independence itself has brought have created additional problems for the new states. Every citizen wants to be completely rid of all vestiges of colonialism. He is very sensitive to anything which savors of the old relationship. The slogan throughout the African world appears to be: "Away with neo-colonialism."

For this reason, each state takes early steps to Africanize its administrative service, sometimes at the expense of efficiency and almost invariably upon the payment of heavy compensation to the expatriates relieved of their employment. This really is as it should be. The continuance of an expatriate citizen in a strategic administrative position would be expected to arouse a nationalist's suspicion that colonialism might be returning by the back door. He therefore insists that the expatriate servants of the government and corporations should be replaced by Africans. Since no government can afford to ignore the views of the nationalists, "ization"2 has become a cardinal policy of all new states, subject only to the proviso that it should not be implemented at reckless cost in efficiency.

What really frustrates "ization" is the patent fact that the new states are poor, and that they lack capital, technological know-how and managerial skill. Conscious of the vital importance of economic development, they have to look to the old source for expertise, and they fully realize that economic aid, whether by way of loan or gift, would appear to come more gracefully from the pocket of the erstwhile colonial power, which may feel a sense of obligation to see the young state well on its feet.

There is, however, a lingering suspicion that such aid will carry with it some obligations which may amount to a return of imperialism in a new guise. So the nationalist in the new state shouts at the top of his voice for "Aid without strings!" and "Freedom to borrow from any source!" But as time goes on, it becomes increasingly obvious, even to the least observant, that such slogans overlook a simple political truth. Altruism does not have any place in international relations. As this fact becomes more evident, the young state unobtrusively returns to the old friend. He then accepts the truism that it is better to treat with the devil that one knows. Thus Britain and France continue to play a leading role in aiding the economic development of their former colonies. The United States is strongly identified with these two powers and it is for that reason that the new states have no hesitation in seeking and accepting American aid. Furthermore, in spite of an avowed policy of neutralism, and the abhorrence of "neo-colonialism," the "British" African states seek membership in the British Commonwealth, and the "French" African states retain their comradeship within the Communauté Rénovée.

There is an ever-present danger of overdoing "ization" of the administrative service. Where this has happened, and there has been a breakdown in efficiency, the new state has had to rehire expatriates on much less favorable terms than were available initially.

One may now attempt an answer to the last questions posed above: "What is the pattern, if any, of the constitutional system which is evolving on the independent continent? What is the shape of the emergent African profile?" Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, being ex-British colonial territories, started independence with two-party parliamentary democracy patterned on the British system. The "French" African Republics, on the other hand, adopted the presidential system and seem to have preferred the one-party rule. Even in places like the Ivory Coast and Senegal, where more than one political party contested election, the electorate returned the government party to power with virtually a 100 percent victory.

Apart from the defects and unsuitability of the two-party system already noted, it is a matter for comment that fewer upheavals have bedevilled the French African states which have one-party systems of government than have disturbed the British African two-party governments. It seems the former have avoided the instability which characterized the earlier French Republic, by adopting the governmental system established by General de Gaulle.

Nigeria has not yet had occasion to amend its constitution. Ghana, on the other hand, has altered her own beyond recognition and has noticeably drifted toward a one-party system of government almost from the beginning. There is now no Opposition in Ghana worth talking about and the powers assumed by the President are as wide as, if not wider than, those of any French-speaking African state. For instance, the appointment of Ministers by the Ghanaian President does not require the approval or ratification of the National Assembly. Also, if a bill is vetoed by him, it cannot be sent back later for his assent by the Assembly. What stands out preëminently is the fact that Ghana, like the majority of African states, is practically committed to a one-party system.

It has been widely suggested that Dr. Nkrumah is rapidly heading toward dictatorship. He has taken every conceivable opportunity available to deny it. It is only fair to grant him bona fides and to accept, as he has always claimed, that he does not eschew democracy. It is at least clear that, without expressly declaring for a one-party system, he seems to have been concerned with the obvious defects of two-party democracy and to have proceeded to cure them on his own terms and to his own advantage. He has carried the reforms of the Ghanaian constitution to the point of annihilating the Opposition.

Since Dr. Nkrumah attained power under a two-party system of democracy, one would have preferred that, if he found that system irksome or the Opposition intolerable, he should seek the mandate of the people to alter the constitution before he destroyed the Opposition, not after. The issue of a one-party as against a two-party system is not only important, it is fundamental. To have won election under a two-party constitution and then to proceed to exterminate the Opposition without the people's mandate was to break faith with the electorate of Ghana. By his ruthless use of his majority, he has derogated the sovereignty of the people of Ghana and has equated the authority of the members of the Convention Peoples Party to that of the whole nation. His challenge to that sovereignty reached its climax when he clapped into jail under the Preventive Detention Act his Presidential rival, Dr. J. B. Danquah. So long as Ghana is still ostensibly committed to the two-party system of government, this can only be interpreted as disregarding the rights of the minority whose will and number were expressed in the votes cast for Dr. Danquah.

Sierra Leone, like Nigeria, entered independence with a coalition government. In the case of Nigeria, coalition was enforced by the nature of the election results. In Sierra Leone, however, the coalition is in the nature of a national front, formed in acknowledgment of the unsuitability of a two-party system for a young state newly emerged from colonial rule. Perhaps Sierra Leone decided to benefit from the experience of other states.

The pattern of the constitution which is evolving on the African continent is therefore "democracy with strong leadership." It is the African equivalent of the "guided democracy" of President Sukarno of Indonesia and the authoritarian military régimes of Pakistan, Sudan and, until the last election, Burma. Africans obviously believe that the commencement of independent life calls for a united and disciplined people under a strong and dedicated leadership. Nkrumah of Ghana, Sékou Touré of Guinea, General Aboud of Sudan, President Nasser of Egypt-this is the profile that is emerging in independent Africa. The stress is not on "the people" but on "the leader" and the leader unmistakably speaks with the tongue of the millions of his people.

[i] "Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah." New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1957, p. 216. 2 A suffix to words like Nigerian, Ghanaian, Sudan, etc., and indicating the process by which expatriates are replaced by nationals. The initial letter "i" undoubtedly stands for India, where the effort to replace expatriates with indigenes first started as a national policy.

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