Lembe Tiky introduces “Democracy and Democratization in Afrika”.
About the Author
My birth place is Bonabéri, which is a neighbourhood in the city of Douala in Cameroon. I grew up there and only left to go to college in Yaoundé where I earned a BA in French Modern letters, with a specialization in African literature. I then worked as a reporter for a couple of papers in Cameroon, got in trouble with the government for some of my investigations. Once released from jail, I was invited to Senegal to discuss issues related to freedom of expression in Cameroon. I ended up living in the beautiful city of Dakar for nearly three years, learning from my Senegalese friends others sides of African culture. I left Senegal to settle in the Washington, DC metropolitan area in the United States, where I spent eight years. There I studied International Relations and earned an MA at the American University. Few years later I moved to Dallas and there I earned a PhD in Political Science. Since then, I teach international relations and comparative politics courses at the University of Connecticut and I am an Associate of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. My research interests include topics such as democratic theory, democratization, development, human rights, security issues and foreign relations.
What inspired this work
The textbooks I use to teach African Politics in American Universities are seldom written by people of African origins; they are written by scholars who were taught that Africa never produced anything meaningful. This perspective clearly influences their exposes of African political issues. For example, the description of precolonial Africa as “stateless societies”really turned me off. I don’t blame these scholars, really, they just don’t know better. With this work I tried to bring in an African perspective and correct some of the wrong views on Africa presented to students. To stick with the example given above, I show that precolonial Africa is populated by STATES and that the social organizing principle called democracy first emerged in the continent.
I turned my basement into an office and worked furiously to complete this study; I felt like it was something I had to do, my whole mind was in it, and my whole body responded well. I spend many long night in the library at the University of Connecticut, reading everything it had on African history and politics. I am a night owl, so that helped.
Anecdotes and scenes surrounding this work
I have two daughters, Akeena, and Sue. They were 5 and 3 and were not happy that I spent so much time in front of a computer. Girls are demanding! Sitting on my lap, they will ask: “You‘re writing a book” “Why are you writing a book” “Africa?” And I answer: Yes, I am writing a book… I am writing a book for you and your friends because I want you to know about Africa… Africa is where I am from and it is a place you will go back to, someday…I hope they read T2A and these lines tomorrow when they actually go back to the land of the future and think “dad predicted this.”
A short summary
Unlike other studies of democracy and democratization in Africa that start the investigation with postcolonial developments, this book is a comprehensive study that investigates political developments in African colonial and postcolonial states. The research finds that centralized and decentralized African states designed and implemented democratic institutions hundreds of years before they were ultimately defeated by European powers. This argument turns upside down the conventional view that the birth place of democracy is the ancient city-state of Athens; it shows that democracy emerged in Africa and later spread in Greece. Moreover, the book proposes an original theory of democratization that discusses the conditions of the emergence of democracy in the context of precolonial Africa.
Analyzing politics in contemporary African states, the study draws a sharp dichotomic line between democracy and dictatorship and proposes a classification and ranking of these two types of political regimes in Africa. Looking ahead, this work also discusses and proposes answers to some of the most important issues regarding the building of democratic regimes in contemporary African states.