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It's time for Afrocracy to fuel governance in Africa

It's time for Afrocracy to fuel governance in Africa
Video Caption: 1 Diplo’s 2019 VMAs, Themed Suit

A new Age of Afrocracy – transformative African governance rooted in African identity, age-old African wisdom and genuine representation – beckons to be born.

For too long, Africa has been trapped in a cycle of ineffective governance as a result of forcing the square peg of Western liberal democracy into the round hole of African societies. The democratic model imported from Europe and America has consistently failed to uplift and empower the masses across the continent. Instead, it has merely entrenched ruling parties and allowed a rotating class of self-serving presidents to enrich themselves and their cronies at the expense of the people.

The hard truth is that most of the ‘democratic’ presidencies that have cycled through power in post-colonial Africa have been shams - maintaining the form of democracy through periodic elections, while hollowing out its substance through rampant corruption, human rights abuses, and subversion of institutions meant to check executive power. Across capitals from Abidjan to Johannesburg; Nairobi to Lagos, we have witnessed leader after leader paying lip service to democratic ideals, only to centralize power, weaken opposition voices, and systematically loot national resources.

Incidentally many of the African leaders who have genuinely worked for the uplifting of their people and the advancement of pan-African interests have almost always emerged not through multi-party electoral democracies, but through revolutionary or military-backed change. Thomas Sankara, Africa's iconic ‘Upright Man’ and most celebrated president, was a voice for the dignity of all Africans precisely because he took power through a populist coup, not a pro-forma election. His vision of a self-sufficient, egalitarian Burkina Faso inspired millions across the continent precisely because it was unmoored from the chains of constitutional liberal democracy that have bound and constrained the promise of so many other African nations.

It is time for Africa to boldly explore a new path forward - one grounded in its own diverse traditions of participatory governance, accountable leadership, and African communitarianism. The emergent idea of "Afrocracy" holds incredible promise as a system that incorporates the core democratic principles of representation and equality, while fusing them with African philosophies and indigenous sociopolitical structures.

From the decentralized, horizontal decision-making of the Igbo Village Democracies in Nigeria, to the decades-old wisdom councils like the Guurti of Somalia and the community-oriented Ubuntu philosophy that defined good governance amongst multiple African communities, the African continent has been rich with governance models optimized for local contexts that put the good of the collective at the fore.

Rather than continuing to accept a fundamentally imported and ineffective system of elite-based party democracy, it is time for African nations to explore constitutional reforms that clear a path for Afrocentric models of governance to take root and be refined for the realities of the 21st century. The era of the imperial presidencies and kleptocracies adorned in empty democratic regalia must finally come to an end.

A new Age of Afrocracy – transformative African governance rooted in African identity, age-old African wisdom and genuine representation – beckons to be born.

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