Of Power,Politics and Africa

There is the existence of hidden and collective structures of power that surround and control official tenants of government across Africa.

Jean Bayart,The Criminalization of the State in Africa 


             Photo credit: nations online.org

Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano referred to these power structures as vested interests.

It is this group for whom the Africa rising narrative mostly holds true.
The political system in most of Africa’s 54 countries is inept with a tendency for kleptocracy and self aggrandizement. Given the peculiar nature of the cultural norms in some of its societies e.g. Nigeria, where sudden wealth is acceptable and there is a possibility that criminal networks pay rent to tenants of public offices, there is a high risk that many of its governments may soon be active participants in criminal activities such as the drug trade.
My argument is supported by how Max Brugger in the self shot movie The Ambassador, was able to easily work through European based diplomatic passport brokers to obtain a diplomat’s passport from one of the most senior public leaders in Liberia. It is informative that he paid up to $40,000 directly to the Minister of Foreign affairs- Sherman and was eventually approved by the President- a globally respected African leader.

Sherman fits the categorization of the gate keeper to the inner state- the shadow government that runs African states without the corresponding institutional visibility. At the time Brugger shot his movie in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) , the gatekeeper was Gaston Mackouzangba, Minister of Civil Service and the president’s son Francis Bozize. 

Jean Bayart stated in his book entitled, The criminalization of the state in Africa, these men represented invisible power structures that often influenced the tenants of government office to pursue policies that preserved the privileges of different factional interests.

As the world globalizes and criminal non-state actors seek room across the world to distribute and ply their trade, countries with weak governments and elites who abuse state institutions and privatize public resources for self interest will increasingly prove vulnerable to the lure of the drug and other international criminal syndicates.
Criminality is a continuum and the elite of African countries are well steeped in the practice of its intermediate form which is the corruption of the stomach- kleptocracy. The interplay of the interventionism on international criminal syndicates by the West as well as the resources that China offers to African governments in exchange for commodities will both moderate and eventually dictate the extent to which African states actually become active operators in the global underworld.

We will dig more into this in the next post.

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