n Journal of Public Administration - Indigenous Africa's governance architecture : a need for African public administration theory?

Volume 50 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The African continent has suffered a rather tormented history, following different historical epochs like shadows of colonialism, conquest, neo-colonialism, global capitalism and foisting upon the western organizational management/leadership practices. The indigenous systems of governance are so much neglected that they hardly receive the significant scholarly attention they deserve in most public administration write ups and curricula in African universities. This article sheds light on Africa's indigenous administrative systems, which have been portrayed as rather troubled, chaotic and biased in the literature, especially where western ideas are portrayed as superior to indigenous systems. The article suggests that African scholars are primarily duty bound to portray a better picture of the administrative structures. The tendency, by the architects of the colonial enterprise, to believe that Africa had no administration worthy of the name needs to be rejected, while compelling facts and examples to solidify the robustness of the pre-colonial governance apparatus are advanced. This article advocates for a deeper understanding of the indigenous governance, administration and management systems, practices that, when well documented, should inform a theory of African public administration. The article examines two opposing views in the existing literature, but relies on the second set of ideas.

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