top of page

African political institutions are more stable when they are rooted in ancestral customs

The world is in admiration with what is happening in Benin, the West is boasting about their this students who learned well their lessons in democracy but should we really take out the paternity of the stability of political institutions in countries such as Senegal, Benin and Kenya, from African themselves when one knows that the Mandingo charter Kuru kan Fuga in the current Mali was convened in 1236 after the Mandingo themselves were freed from the yoke of the despotic king Soumaro Kante.

The people guided by the ancestral wisdom had met to restore order without the intervention of a foreign power. This charter which tackle all aspects of civic life already gave women the right to vote and to exercise public service more than 700 years before the Western could think about giving women the right to vote.

Federalism also was consecrated in the Charter twelve provincial governors recognized to Sundiata Keita the responsibility to lead the Mandingo federation as king.

The principle of conventional divine law defined later by Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274) in medieval Europe was still only theory. For Aquinas who was much inspired by the works of Greek and Arab scholars, who themselves were inspired by ancient Africa, the human positive law is a necessity because of the very nature of man. The Man is a political being, a being who lives in society and therefore needs a social, political order. The human positive law is only valid if accepted by all. It derives its legal force from its consensus, and becomes a common good that everyone must defend.

Following these principles rooted in African wisdom, the 12 days of the conclave chaired by the king of Bobos, who played the role of President of the Legislative Assembly adopted 44 articles regulating different sectors of life, defining the rights, duties and obligations of each other. This example shows that the exercise of political power in Africa with the support of the people that westerners have called democracy is not something new even one has to look at this African democracy under a different light because it is not at all inspired by disorder and cacophony of Western democracy where the right to freedom is enshrined in opposition to the freedom of the right that must be strict because everything cannot be allowed especially behavior that destroy the natural order of things. The right to freedom leads to licentiousness which is a corruption of conscious freedom, as now observed in Western democracy, where even immorality when it is sanctioned by the vote of many become force of law, an injustice remains am injustice if accepted by the majority. it is not the mere will of men that count but the respect for the natural order of things. In Western democracies the number and people that are the basis of law, while among Africans it’s the essential concept of consciousness and harmony with the natural order of things that count. This moral is steeped in the consciousness of African by a Supreme entity, God. The Westerners will call this principle later free will while for the African it is the divine consciousness that enables man to judge what is good or bad. Justice is a birthright, not a compliance with various emotional expressions of everyone as the westerner seems to devote.

The right to freedom in African brotherhood is a sacred principle that puts first the moral and customary law at the center of all freedom, that kind of freedom which is codified is more efficient and provides more stability in societal life, because it is built around customs that are its cornerstones. The West has always presented alas African customs as repressive and despotic, a cliché that is unfair, because some of these are dogmas imported dogmas from the West and Arabia as the forced marriage of minors or excision.

A statement, of this principle emerges. All African countries where customs are fairly perennials have the most stable political systems. And often this stability was acquired from great struggle against the colonial authorities. In Kenya for example Mau Mau, Kikuyu secret society revolt against the British colonial power is put to the credit of this struggle, to safeguard the secular customs. The victory of the Mau Mau, towards the UK has helped make Kenya the stable country of today. If the colonial and neo-colonial system were to dominate totally, it is clear that this country would have known the fate of the instabilities of other countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone or the neighboring Uganda where until now the fanatics of an imported religion continues to wage an armed struggle against the people of Uganda. The destruction of the kingdom of Toro in Uganda, and the war that followed is a good example, that proves that the destruction of customs can only bring social, unrest, as it was the case in Ethiopia after the coup against Haile Selassie the last Negus. The Mau Mau is the antidote of the Lord Resistance Army of Joseph Kony and everyone can freely apprehend the misdeeds of the penetration of Western religious dogmas and the benefits of preserving local customs when comparing the stability of both countries.

Senegal is another country often cited as an example of African democracy, there is also a special case here, if Westerners tend to cite the work of one of their pure product, Cedar Senghor as the precursor of the alternation of power in Africa the observer warned, knows very well that, its stability, Senegal owes it to a hard core of Muslim brotherhoods, who are guarantors of the protection of customs and consequently they have a decisive word to say, when it comes to the exercise of political power because they exercise an authority recognized by all. In Senegal the political game, is played around these brotherhoods far from adopting the integral Islam, these religious sects have instead made an inculturation that made them reclaim the religion. Inculturation which often brought upon them the ire of Islamic fundamentalists as Ousmane Dan Fodjo who considered this type of Islam was more African maraboutism which is a kind of voodoo in the Muslim sauce. the biggest brotherhood are: Xaadir the oldest, originally founded by the mystic Sufi, Abdul-Qadir Gilani in the twelfth century, it reached Senegal in the eighteenth century. The Tidjane, the most common brotherhood. The Mouride brotherhood, the richest and most active, founded by the marabout Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, And The brotherhood of Layènes. All these brotherhoods are important they are the safeguard that allows the stability of political institutions.

Since the ancient Egypt, clergy often played a leading role, in imbuing its principles in the popular consciousness pledge of the respect for institutions established.

In Benin, the voodoo and its capital Ouidah is the epicenter of the consciousness of Beninese people, since the ancestral religion Voodoo, has always allowed to settle political disputes using customary rules and ancestral wisdom. There too, the clergy enjoys an important aura, both among the general population and the political class. Speaking of Voodoo, some will wonder why Haiti another country where voodoo is predominant knows no stability. From 1802 till today Haiti has lost its Voodoo somehow, what helped them move out of the yoke of slavery has been forgotten or perverted with time. The perversion of ancestral values ​​under the Duvalier dictatorship, where Voodoo was more used to consolidate the power of a ruling family, not a people, has been corrosive. And worse the clergy has never been made, voodoo priests have always failed to unanimously gain respect by incorporation themselves as persons of reference, as in Benin where they do not often hesitate to challenge the political authorities who want to confiscate the rights of the people. In any case one thing is certain the day when Haiti will be reconciled with it culture and African religion by putting its principles at the center of its social concerns things will change for the best.

What about other African secret societies, and Western secret societies what role do they play in the exercise of power in Africa?

Apart from the cases mentioned above there are a host of African secret societies which survived colonization, but in general with the balkanization of the continent and impoverishment of sub-Saharan Africa by colonialism and neo-colonialism, the majority of African secret societies succumbed to corruption, putting their secret knowledge at the disposal of despots as was the case of Mobutu who was a member of the secret society of men leopards. The Membership of the African political establishment to secret societies in general allows them to consolidate their power at the expense of the people. Western secret societies, advocate the sustainability of neo-colonial policies by placing at strategic positions African leaders trained in Western universities where they were recruited and initiated in secret lodges and as a result the authority behind the political power in these African nations is held by the West, that rule through these regents they impose.

By Hubert Marlin Elingui Jr.

journalist Writer

Headline - A la une
In This Edition
bottom of page