Emerging Human Rights: The African Political Economy Context

By Mark O. C. Anikpo; George W. Shepherd Jr. | Go to book overview

incapable of addressing the strong internal roots of Africa's deepening crisis. At the internal level, national development plans, indigenization, and Africanization programs have only served to further crisis, contradictions, and conflicts. Serious structural changes, mass mobilization and strategies for self-reliant, and self- sustaining growth are not being pursued:

Revolutionary changes in the structure of African economies have clearly not occurred; and even their growth rates have been less than satisfactory. But some very significant changes have occurred--not necessarily for the better--particularly in the relations of production. . . . Efforts to reduce the disarticulation of African economies have had a marginal effect at best.36

The above, then, is the root of human rights violations in Africa. Competition for the capture, control, and use of state power in support of private capital accumulation within the context of dependence and underdevelopment militates against the provision of the basic needs of people.

It becomes inappropriate, as many Western scholars tend to do, to discuss human rights as if no class or political dimensions were involved. Can a disparate, dependent, and insecure dominant class guarantee human rights? Can a distorted, disarticulated, dominated, underdeveloped, and dependent economy accommodate demands for basic human needs and human rights? Of what use is a debate as to whether civil and political rights or social and economic rights should take priority when either way marginalized, hungry, exploited, illiterate, and oppressed people would gain very little? Does it make much sense to continue to concentrate on so-called international declarations on human rights, frequently violated by the developed (especially Western) powers when it is obvious that these declarations have meaning and relevance only to the extent that they mediate the powers and interests of local dominant classes? These are crucial questions. Our discussions have provided some answers. To the extent that African societies are class societies, characterized by inequalities in all respects, the struggle for human rights must be seen as part of the struggle for change and progress.


NOTES
1.
Amnesty International. "Background Paper on Ghana" ( London: Mimeo, 1974). p. 9.
2.
Femi Falana, quoted in Babatunde Ojudu, "Nigeria: Morning Yet on Human Rights Day." African Concord ( June 9, 1987). pp. 6-7.
3.
Adebayo Adedeji. "Africa: Permanent Underdog?" International Perspectives ( March-April 1981). p. 17.

-65-

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