The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 12, 2001

Intercultural Philosophy

Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze
Pages 187-199

Democracy in Today’s Africa
A Philosopher’s Point of View

There are international and so-called “global” forces framing Africa within a larger world, a world structured predominantly by Europe and North America and their needs for raw materials and markets, power, and leisure. This paper therefore pursues questions like, “What does democracy mean for Africans today?” and, “What does freedom mean when colonial liberation has been achieved?” or, to be more precise, “What is democracy in the world today from an African perspective?”. I distinguish between freedom (as the exercise of autonomy and accompanying responsibility), and liberation (as the throwing off of foreign domination). I argue that democracy should be understood as a “concern for freedoms” (religious, economic, or political), and that democratic law seeks, in principle, the most space for the exercise of freedom for everyone. This conception of democracy is quite naturally the “other” face of the independence and liberation movements throughout Africa.