A Theoretical Perspective
WUNYABARI O. MALOBA
The performance of African countries more than twenty-five years after the attainment of political independence has not been impressive. Hunger, political strife, severe limitation on civil liberties have all grown in intensity, leading many observers to conclude sadly that 'African independence has been an abysmal failure'. 1 This harsh assessment, it needs to be emphasized, has not been limited to external agencies and foreigners, many of whom can easily be accused of malice. Many local evaluations and appraisals of the economic, social and political performance of African countries have tended to provide evidence of stagnation and even regression in development. 2 Economic stagnation has been recorded despite 'vast amounts in aid between 1962 and 1978'. 3
In the area of politics, there has been a proliferation of states under authoritarian rule or army rule, in which there has been loss of civil liberties, often the result of regimes seeking to maintain themselves in power by suppressing political rivals. This suppression, often brutal, has 'curtailed the openness of debate and public wooing for support, on which politics as an activity must inevitably thrive'. 4
This chapter seeks to discuss the general idea of decolonization, especially as it relates to Africa. The aim is to show how the present conditions in Africa can be ideologically and institutionally linked to the colonial and imperial past. Without comprehending this tragic linkage, Africa's poverty and misery become the results of ill-fortune, a curse or some inexplicable haunting set of circumstances.
African nationalism in the 1960s had one overriding aim: to attain political independence. Kwame Nkrumah, correctly regarded as a