In This Review

Personal Rule in Black Africa: Prince, Autocrat, Prophet, Tyrant
Personal Rule in Black Africa: Prince, Autocrat, Prophet, Tyrant
By Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg
University of California Press, 1982, 316 pp

This fascinating study of African governance since Independence scrutinizes a neglected area of political analysis, focusing on the importance of individual leadership styles rather than social, cultural and economic variables. Nudging our mental furniture a bit, the authors vividly remind us of the obstacles to "legal" governance where existing institutions do not really match those set forth in the promulgated constitutions. As they assess African leaders-chiefly according to their ability to hold things together rather than their development performance-an impressively skilled group of politicians emerges among the long-term survivors. Unfortunately, the leadership of the Marxist states has not had a long enough run to qualify within the authors' schema and the question of how far socialist institution-building may affect modes of leadership is not addressed. It is to be hoped that this approach may be extended to assess leadership in terms of institution-building as well as consolidation of power.