Courtesy Reuters

The New Africa

The problems which would beset post-colonial Africa were hardly recognized as the continent emerged into congeries of independent states ten years ago. Perhaps too great familiarity with detail made it hard for the colonial powers to see the problems clearly; too little familiarity with the realities made it hard for the United States; for both, and for the Africans themselves, belief in the sovereign power of freedom blinded them to the risks and tests which freedom entails.

But the problems lying in wait (which had much in common, also, with those of the new Asian nations) were not long in coming. The most dangerous of them was the legitimacy of the political system-how to establish the authority and sovereignty of a constitution so that it should be unquestioned even if governments ruling by it should change. Unlike uncolonized Ethiopia-or, in Asia, Thailand-the modern countries of tropical Africa had no traditional rulers to whom power could be naturally entrusted. Universal suffrage, for largely illiterate populations, was used as the legitimizing tool.

The economic problems derived from the dual economy created by colonialism- the small, largely Westernized "modern sector" of sophisticated production and consumption, versus the huge hinterland of somewhat disturbed rural life, tribalism and ancient cultural tradition. There seemed to be only a choice of emphasizing this dualism by further development of the modern sector through close economic relations with the West, or of trying to escape neo-colonialism by sacrificing economic growth.

Certain ideological and moral dilemmas have also been deeply felt by African leaders who wanted to avoid the materialistic capitalism of the West, escape the horrors of the nineteenth-century industrial revolution, and invent an economy which put social services ahead of the production of material goods (which in the West had financed the Welfare State). The resulting variants of state socialism have often placed upon thinly manned governments and communities which are weak in commercial skills the major burden of generating wealth, a function which in the West was largely

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