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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The African State System: The Paradox of Political Universalism
Author:Gebe, B.
Periodical:Africa Quarterly
Geographic term:Africa
Politics and Government
Abstract:Historical evidence in Africa suggests that societies were organized along different lines in the past. Indeed, the current problems of political and economic development arise from both the denial of Africa's own institutional and normative framework, as well as from the superimposition of foreign ideologies and structures. Politics in Africa today demonstrates the 'paradox of political universalism'. Africa is governed in terms of nation-States even if these lack the requisite attributes. The African State as a colonial and artificial construct is protected internationally through existing legal norms and practices - nonintervention in the internal affairs of sovereign States, the nonviolability of territorial borders, and representation in international organizations. Left on their own to function in the international system of States, without the necessary international legal regimes, financial support and the coercive infrastructure of foreign patrons, most African states would have collapsed and become extinct by now. However, a return to a nostalgic past is impractical. Regional integrative schemes that transcend the fault lines of ethnicity, power and economic marginalization, combined with novel ideas which fuse the strength of the African past with current achievements, may constitute the way ahead. Note, ref.