Academic journal article Journal of Third World Studies

Grounding Leadership Ethics in African Diaspora and Election Rights

Academic journal article Journal of Third World Studies

Grounding Leadership Ethics in African Diaspora and Election Rights

Article excerpt


While only a dozen African countries grant their citizens living abroad the right to vote, the remaining nations fall between those that have unimplemented vote provisions for their expatriates and the countries that have yet to consider such provisions. Recently, an informal survey of the African Diaspora taken by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reveals that some members of the Diaspora support the right to elections while others oppose it. However, both the African countries and the Diaspora welcome the significant financial contribution of the Diaspora as a citizen right or a duty, yet they fail to regard the right to vote as an integral element of citizenship. The split among African countries and African Diaspora poses the following ethical dilemma: How can African Diaspora carry the expectation due to citizens to invest in the economy of their birth countries while they are being deprived of the citizen right to elect the leaders of the same countries? To analyze this question, I will use an "inquiry method for working ethical dilemmas" proposed by Kramer and Enomoto in their book Leading through the quagmire, and I will suggest a "prudent pragmatism" resolution as laid out by Bluhm and Heineman in Ethics and public policy, advocating for the Diaspora's rights to invest in both the economy and the governance of their countries birth. (1) A global leader might find here a balanced process to adapt when facing ethical dilemmas in the international spectrum.

The BBC News Service (2006) launched an open online survey directed toward the African Diaspora worldwide, asking the following questions: (2) 1) "Should more countries give their expats the votes?" 2) "When you leave your country, do you also leave behind your right to have a say in how the country is run?" 3) "What impact would the Diaspora have in your country's politics?" While two dozens of African countries grant their citizens living abroad the right to vote, others don't have such a provision. (3) Since African Diaspora heavily contributes to the development of their home countries, it also faces the question of whether it ought to participate in the political exercise of electing officials in their countries of birth. The paper attempts to ethically solve this dilemma by adapting a methodology proposed by both Kramer and Enomoto, and Bluhm and Heineman. (4) 1 will first provide a brief analysis of the African Diaspora; secondly, I will walk though the process of dilemma analysis using Kramer and Enomoto's method, then I will propose some courses of action as to whether the African Diaspora ought to vote in their countries of origin. (5) A short conclusion will follow.


The right to participate in elections engages the area of political ethics, which deals with how to act in a political realm comprising of both evil and the opportunity to do good in society (6) Thompson maintains that political ethics involves three main actors: political candidates campaigning for office, the political leaders governing a political community and the average citizens such as those making up the African Diaspora.

In an effort to conceptualize the African Diaspora, Colin Palmer identifies five streams of what sums up as the global dispersion of people of African descent:

   The first African Diaspora was a consequence of the great
   movement within and outside of Africa that began about
   100,000 years ago ... The second major diasporic stream
   began about 3000 B.C.E. with the movement of the Bantu-speaking
   peoples from the region that is now the
   contemporary nations of Nigeria and Cameroon to other
   parts of the African continent and to the Indian Ocean. The
   third major stream, which I characterize loosely as a trading
   Diaspora, involved the movement of traders, merchants,
   slaves, soldiers, and others to parts of Europe, the Middle
   East, and Asia beginning around the fifth century
   B. … 
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