n Journal of Public Administration - Coloniality and governance in Africa in the twenty-first century : the challenges of public administration

Volume 50, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767


African states and governments appear to have imbibed a culture of mimicking what is in vogue in other climes, irrespective of whether it is in their interest or not. This has prompted what Fela Anikpolakpo Kuti (1976), a popular Afro-beat musician, refers to as "follow - follow" or "zombie" mentality, that is, a sheeplike and unguarded imitation of whatever other people do. The fad from the late 1950s through the 1960s to early 1970s was freedom and decoloniality. These were supplanted in the 1980s and 1990s by liberalisation and globalisation. In between these were major policy thrusts of African governments such as "development planning" in the 60s and 70s, "structural adjustment programmes" (SAPs) in the 80s, and "good governance" in the 90s. A glance at these policy focuses of African countries reveals that with the exception of decoloniality, the rest were dictated from outside the continent, particularly by western powers through their agents and institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organisaton (WTO). Certain questions need to be raised and addressed on all these policies and programmes. First, what has been the role of Public Administration as an academic discipline dedicated to analysing and exposing the myopism and emptiness inherent in these policies and programmes with regard to how they have tackled Africa's needs? Second, how has Public Administration been able to empower and partner with African governments, bureaucrats and other practitioners in the day-to-day governance and management of public affairs? Again, after half a century of existence as a field of academic pursuit, has Public Administration been a tool of western imperialism, in tandem with Claude Ake's book (1982) titled or a discipline in the pursuit of solutions to the myriads of problems confronting African states and peoples? Furthermore, what are the implications of all these on the epistemological foundation of the discipline? This paper is an attempt to interrogate these and other related questions and issues. The writer believes that there is an urgent need to re-examine and reconstruct the theories of the discipline, and, if necessary, invent new ones in order to factor in African perspectives that address issues and problems peculiar to Africa.

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