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Roots of Political Instability in Africa

Anirudha Gupta
Economic and Political Weekly
Vol. 2, No. 23 (Jun. 10, 1967), pp. 1041+1043+1045-1046
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4358039
Page Count: 4
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Roots of Political Instability in Africa
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Abstract

Most African leaders are faced with the problem of nation-building while at the same time having to legitimise their hold on political power. The two objectives are not always complementary. Besides, the measures which a political elite adopts might, paradoxically enough, weaken its overall hold on the country. This makes necessary a study of the African evolues-the elite-and the role they are playing in their national communities. The immediate issue is whether African systems can expand the base of the elite class, recruit new ones and thus create a consensus in favour of their systems. So far the findings of sociologists do not make one optimistic about the success of this process. The tendency, therefore, is to perpetuate a social class into a status group, tending towards exclusiveness and assumption of social position through the family. As a result politics in most newly-independent countries show tension between different groups of the elite competing for higher benefits, tensions between elite and the people which are expressed also in terms of ethnic, cultural and other kinds of conflicts, and tensions between the ruling elite and other organised professional or military groups. Trends show that all these factors may work simultaneously giving rise to new tensions, conflicts and sudden political upheavals.

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