Federalism in Africa: An Indigenous Idea with a Colonial History

Authored by: Sara Jordan

The Ashgate Research Companion to Federalism

Print publication date:  August  2009
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754671312
eBook ISBN: 9781315612966
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043454


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As with so many ideas and artifacts emerging from African societies, the construction of African politics bears a consistent relationship to a mythical politics of the West. Throughout later recorded history, as trade routes circumnavigating the African continent proliferated, travelers’ accounts of strange and often terrible cultures emerged as the pattern of relating Africa to the west (Davidson 1991, 4–5). In much of the comparative politics literature, it seems little has changed. Those engaged in the study of “Africa” often paint the continent with one large brush, a point that generates inevitable political and scholarly errors (Hyden 2006, 1–4). The persistence of ideas of a single Africa or a unitary Africanity is not the proper subject of the following analysis, but it is important to declare at the outset that when using the continental term, I mean Africa as an ideal, similar to the way that we might describe the European ideal.

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