African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 389


African perceptions of democracy

  M. Todd Bradley
  Department of Political Science, Indiana University Kokomo, 2300 S. Washington St., KE 356 Kokomo, IN 46904. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 14 December 2011
  •  Published: 30 December 2011



There are many perceptions, concepts and constructs of what it means to be democratic or what constitutes a democracy. Unfortunately, many of those paradigms are linear, Western-oriented models, which tend to overlook the historical and cultural variations of democracy, especially in pre-colonial African systems of democratic governance. For example, there were associational and horizontal-type democracies, (which meant shared governance and consultation, essential to any concept of democratic-decision-making) prior to the Berlin Conference of 1884 to 1885, which essentially “carved up” Africa in the European scramble for Africa’s great natural resources, vast land and cheap labor. This paper will illustrate the perceptions of what it means to be democratic from the African experience. As well as the perceptions becoming a reality as various African countries continue to experiment with their own versions of democracy in the post-colonial period. 


Keywords: Democracy, types of democracies, African democracies.