Africa and the Origin of Democracy: A Reappraisal of The Igbo ‘Stateless’ Society

Charles E. Ekpo, Jide Chime


So much have been conceptualized about democracy; its theories, models, principles, functionalities, etc. The concept has been over-flogged by an avalanche of scholars in the humanities, social and political sciences. Nevertheless, nominal effort is concentrated in critically studying the rudiment of its origin. Most scholars have however relegated the
importance of analytically looking into the rather complex issue of the evolution of democracy and think it to be the prerogative of Athens. In some scholarly publications whereby a subheading for the history of democracy is rendered, the totality of the argument is based on Athens as the edifice to which modern democracy traces its origin. Such assertions remain unchallenged in western historiography but can same be said of Africa which had haboured several democratic institutions before the advent of Europeans? The focus of this work is not to deprive Athens of its rightful place in the history of democracy, but rather, to emphatically state that some forms and traits of democratic governance had existed in Africa devoid of Athenian and other „foreign‟ influences; a case study being the
Igbo traditional political structure. The work argues that these examples of democratic governments deserve a mention in the assays of democracy history. The work therefore charges scholars to note these independently evolved democratic institutions in pre-colonial Africa and do justice to them by incorporating them while arguing the history and evolution of democracy. Both primary and secondary evidences are utilized in this work.

Keywords: Democracy, Origin of Democracy, African Democracy, State, Stateless Society.


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