Ethnicity Blights Democratization and Nation-Building in Africa

MIN READFeb 4, 2019 | 11:00 GMT

Nigeria's Obafemi Awolowo played a key role in his nation's independence movement. "Nigeria is not a nation, it is a mere geographical expression," he wrote in his 1947 book, "Path to Nigerian Freedom."

(DOUGLAS MILLER/Keystone/Getty Images)

One of the problems undermining liberal democracy in Africa is ethnicity. In fact, despite the rise of multiparty democracy on the continent, the electoral decision-making processes are often defined by vitriolic rivalries between clans and cultural groupings. While agreeing that ethnicity predates colonial Africa, its prominence today is arguably a by-product of the balkanization of Africa by European powers. The arbitrary borders created at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 confined different ethnic groups to specific states. Many of those boundaries enclosed hundreds of diverse and independent groups with no common history, culture, language or religion....

image of globe

Connected Content

Article Search