An Introduction to African Politics

An Introduction to African Politics

An Introduction to African Politics

An Introduction to African Politics


An Introduction to African Politics provides an ideal gateway for individuals seeking to learn more about the African continent. Using accessible terms and concepts, the book seeks to make sense of the dynamic and diverse political systems that are a feature of this fascinating part of the world. It charts the region's fall from grace after independence, the rise and fall of the one-party state and Africa's recent struggle to consolidate democracy. This expanded, fully revised and updated edition remains a key source in helping readers to grasp the events and recurring political patterns that have dominated the African continent since decolonization.


Fortunately for the sake of interest, but unfortunately for the textbook writer, the world does not stand still politically. Africa proves to be no exception to this rule. Since the first edition of this book was published at the turn of the millennium, we have seen several significant developments, and non-developments on the continent. The most depressing of the non-developments is the lack of state revival in Somalia and (so far) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Sierra Leone and Liberia have also continued their precarious existence, but most depressing amongst the developments is perhaps the decline of the once relatively powerful and representative states of Côte d'Ivoire and Zimbabwe. It would seem that the re-legitimisation of the African state through multi-party democracy, although potentially massively positive, is no guarantee against the conditions of state collapse and the warlord state so well described in the African politics literature of the late 1990s.

There have also been significant developments in the international relations of the continent in recent times. The Organisation of African Unity has made way for the African Union; the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) marks the creation of an international organisation largely of African design; Britain has devised a foreign policy to engage with the continent (at least, before it prioritised Afghanistan and Iraq); while some progress has been made in persuading Western countries to reduce levels of debt repayments demanded from the poorest states. Again, all these initiatives have potential, but concrete results, so far, are predictably conspicuous by their absence.

And then there is the issue of HIV and AIDS. Slowly, bit by bit, individuals in the West are waking up to the catastrophe that has hit, and will continue to debilitate, Africa. The statistics are quoted in this book, but I am not sure anyone is ready for the future reality.

I have updated, where necessary, the second edition of this book to reflect the developments mentioned above. I have also added new sections on religion and African politics, made more use of Jeffrey Herbst's work on non-hegemonic states in the historical chapter, and updated the case studies accordingly. Alongside other general revisions, new pedagogical features have also been added: namely chapter summary tables and an appendix of internet sources for African politics.

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