Over the course of the 19th and 20th century, West Africa has had nearly fifty conflicts ranging from acts of extreme civil disobedience to full-scale civil war. The levels of atrocities are some of the most depraved acts committed against one human against another in modern day history. Often the outside world watches on as these countries destroy each other, and considering the fact that many of these countries possess valuable natural resources, the capacity to continually perpetuate conflict remains present. The main purpose of this paper will be to discuss many of the consequences associated with the integration of democracy in emerging West African countries at the close of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and colonialism. Could the integration of democracy within inherently tribal cultures be a causal effect for civil war in West Africa? The main premise will focus on the case of Sierra Leone, and the descent into a string of civil wars that turned the country into a failed state for over a decade in modern history.
The hypothesis of this paper will present the idea that civil war in West Africa is often a byproduct of weak central governments using the guise of democracy as a vehicle to create nepotistic pseudo tribal-like governing institutions. In the end, large portions of the population are marginalized by a small group of elites who control the majority of the country’s wealth.
De Hoyos 3
Longstanding ethnic/tribal power disputes, corruption, and other forms of inequality create large gaps in income distribution amongst the population under the emergence of democratic governance. The democratic entity ultimately becomes the tool to perpetuate nepotism, corruption, and other flagrant abuses. Over time, levels of resentment become so high, groups of opposition are eventually formed, and the avoided costs of hyper-violent civil war continually degrade until full-scale anarchy becomes the final byproduct. The case study is a nation that was affected by the TST, and whereby the role of democratic governance was introduced upon independence from the former colonial power.
There are five independent variables to assess from independence to the descent of civil war. High Gini-coefficients are solid indications that the central governing structure has created a system where the majority of a country’s wealth is circulated amongst a low percentage of national elites. The majority of the population often lives below or at the poverty index of $2.00 USD per day. High levels of government corruption tend to perpetuate this system as government officials often look at the country’s treasury as a personal banking account from which to draw from.
Another aspect of the destabilization process often involves the willingness of foreign entities to help in aiding a rebellion, or uprising against the current governing structure. Long-standing ethnic conflicts and tribal division also creates a significant source of...