Comparative Cultural Democracy: The Key To Development in Africa. By Daniel T. Osabu-Kle. Published by Broadview Press Ltd, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. $27.95 pbk.
The books packed into Daniel Osabu-Kle's office at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, make a kind of search for what is missing in Africa's political equation, which he has diagnosed for years both as a military officer in his native Ghana and a political scientist/university don in Canada.
At the right side on the wall of his office, is a small blackboard on which he has scribbled the missing links. He calls them Jaku democracy -- which simply means the modification of African cultural values to suit our modern conditions.
"What I call Jaku democracy has been practised by African rulers for well over 1,000 years," Osabu-Kle explains. "It predates Western democracy. But during the era of colonialism, Africa was subjected to an indirect rule system in which the native rulers were used against their own people.
Thus, during the independence struggle, the African elite saw the African chiefs as allies of the colonial power. So their system of rule was trodden upon by the African elite, and because the chiefs are the custodians of Jaku democracy, the native democratic system was destroyed. The African nationalist elite didn't come from African royal families, and so most of them were not exposed to the actual practice of Jaku democracy."
For this reason, Africa today is experiencing arrested development, in the shape of bloody conflicts in Sierra Leone and Rwanda, weak patriotism, tribalism and hatted, confused elite and economic decline. This has created the erroneous impression that the nation-state in Africa is fading away, its roots shallowest.
But, as Osabu-Kle explains, there is nothing wrong with the roots of the African nation, which is an ethnic coalition. Rather, what is missing are core African cultural values as part of a modified political system acceptable to all the ethnic groups forming the nation-state.
Osabu-Kle's experiences come from extensive travel, close range observation of both military and civilian governments (he was director of Ghana's Civil Aviation from 1984-1989) and long-running study of not only the missing links but how to fix them. He has been reaching in Ghana and Canada for the past 23 years.
To him, the need for cultural democratic compatibility in Africa comes from the fact that the transplanted type of democracy has not worked, and so...