What Should Africans Expect from Their Constitutions?

By Mbaku, John Mukum | Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

What Should Africans Expect from Their Constitutions?


Mbaku, John Mukum, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy


I. THE NEED TO REGULATE SOCIO-POLITICAL INTERACTION

One of the most intractable problems in post-independence Africa is the failure of many countries on the continent to effectively manage social, ethnic, and religious diversity. (1) African countries are extremely diverse--such extreme and rich diversity can be traced to the various ethnic groups that populate these countries, the influence of European colonialism, as well as the influence of Christianity, Islam, and other external factors, which include globalization and significant migrations of people from one country to another. (2) The failure of many African countries to provide effective mechanisms for the management of the interdependence, as well as the conflict that invariably arises from religious and ethnic diversity, has produced various forms of violence and political instability. Some of this instability can be traced to destructive mobilization by groups that believe that national, political and economic policies have either marginalized them or placed them on the competitive disadvantage, especially in the distribution or allocation of the benefits of economic growth. (3) Such violent mobilization is said to have contributed significantly to brutal and extremely destructive civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Nigeria, Sudan, and Ethiopia, (4) as well as continued ethnic- or religious-induced violence in Kenya (following the 2007 disputed presidential elections), (5) and many other countries. (6)

While conflict, especially as it relates to the competition for scarce resources, is inherent in the diversity that spans most African countries, it is not necessary that such conflict becomes destructive, or that the various groups that exist in these countries resort to violent, and often destructive, mobilization in order to resolve conflict. Individuals, as well as groups, have a natural tendency to pursue and maximize their own interests and values and this naturally causes conflict. As argued by H. Geoffrey Brennan and James M. Buchanan, (7) "[o]nly the romantic anarchist thinks there is a 'natural harmony' among persons that will eliminate all conflict in the absence of rules." (8) This is true of individuals, as well as groups--be they ethnic, religious or otherwise--in Africa. Hence, to produce harmony, the behavior of individuals and collectivities must be constrained. Thus, as stated by Brennan and Buchanan, (9) "[w]e require rules for living together for the simple reason that without them we would surely fight. We would fight because the object of desire for one individual would be claimed by another." (10) As has been argued by many scholars, most of the destructive ethnic-induced mobilization in Africa during the last several decades has been due primarily to the absence of effective legal constraints on the behaviors of individuals and groups. (11)

Within each African country, as is the case in other societies, the desire by individuals and groups that inhabit these countries to maximize their various interests and values will invariably produce conflict. The natural proclivity of individuals and groups is to maximize their own values, and since the latter usually do not aggregate into a single set of community or societal interests, conflict usually results. (12) Thus, each society must seek what Brennan and Buchanan refer to as an "escape route" (13) from a state of the world characterized by violent and opportunistic mobilization by individuals seeking ways to maximize their interests.

Studies by Brennan and Buchanan have produced two broadly defined "escape routes" for societies facing this dilemma: (1) the capacity of individuals within society to love each other; and (2) the design of rules to provide mechanisms for the coordination of the actions of individuals, and the peaceful resolution of the conflict that arises from socio-political interaction. (14) The latter is usually considered a more efficient and predictable mechanism for coordination and resolution of conflict. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Should Africans Expect from Their Constitutions?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.