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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Who ruled by the spear? Rethinking the form of governance in the Ndebele state
Author:Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J.ISNI
Periodical:African Studies Quarterly (ISSN 1093-2658)
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:Matabele polity
precolonial period
External link:https://asq.africa.ufl.edu/ndlovu-gatsheni_fall08/
Abstract:The current intellectual stampede over issues of governance in Africa has given birth to ahistorical evaluations of the crises bedevilling the African continent. Precolonial traditions and cultures have been unduly blamed for bequeathing politics of disorder on the postcolonial State without being carefully studied separately. This article offers a rebuttal to the emerging 'African exceptionalism' thesis that blames precolonial traditions and cultures for the bad governance systems being witnessed in Africa. It is a systematic interrogation and rethinking of the system of governance of the Ndebele (present-day Zimbabwe) in the nineteenth century. The article arrives at the conclusion that one cannot generalize about precolonial African systems of governance as they were not only diverse but also complex, allowing for good governance and bad governance to co-exist uneasily and tendentiously across space and time. As such the single-despot model preferred by many Eurocentric scholars is too simplistic to explain the complexities and diversities of African political systems. Even postcolonial despotic rulers cannot justify dictatorship and violation of their people's rights on the basis of precolonial African traditions, cultures and histories because human rights and democracy were organically built into precolonial African systems of governance as this case study of the Ndebele demonstrates. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]