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Post Colonial Nation Building In Africa

3608 words - 14 pages

Among the many political and social changes that took place ensuing World War II the colonial states declared their independence. As Samuel Huntington describes in "Political Order in Changing Societies" these communities faced many hardships and are still undergoing the difficulties associated with gaining independence. Tension becomes increasingly severe with the topics of ethnicity, language, region, tradition, and religion. Turmoil regarding these issues ultimately undermines political stability and the ability of new states to effectively govern citizens through a legitimate political institution. The fundamental challenges that new states face are extensive social change accompanied by rapid modernization; especially when insufficient concern is given for establishing firm political institutions.The post-colonial states of Asia, Africa, and Latin America are generally complex, heterogeneous societies and therefore rely heavily on a functional political institution. In the preliminary stages of nation-building, social forces play a pivotal role. Social forces include ethnic, religious, economic, and regional groups. Ideally Huntington's political institution governs the problems that can arise from the clashing of interests among these social groups. An example where social forces can be at odds is illustrated through Israel and its Arab neighbor. In this instance religious groups are fighting a battle over the holy land. There are also numerous ethnic clashes including the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In The Integrative Revolution Clifford Geertz feels "As the new states solidify politically, such disputes may well grow both more frequent and more intense" (Geertz pg. 116). In many post-colonial instances where independence is juvenile, power seems to be there for the taking. To determine how their state will be run and where the power resides conflict and violence among social groups erupts in the form of civil wars and coup de etats. If not controlled, social forces will continue quarrel and eventually one side will become dominate. Alternatively both sides could continue fighting years of stagnant wars like Israel and Arabia. Either way a prosperous state with a stable democracy will be an unlikely outcome.In the post-colonial states, there is a fine line between how much power social forces ought to have; it is imperative though the government be the dominant power. If social forces have too much power and not enough respect for the sovereign there is no allegiance to the country. Political decay, which consists of slow development of political institutions, poor economic gaps, and shortages in the political community will surely ensue as a result of overpowering social forces. As Rupert Emerson notes in Nation Building, the African communities, particularly tribes, pose a significant problem to the establishment of independent states. "It is evident that the traditional tribal system is not readily compatible with...

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