Vol. XIII, Issue 3 (Summer 2006): Ancient Sudan (Nubia), Nigeria and Ghana



Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor

Walton Brown-Foster
Copy Editor

Haines Brown


Olayemi Akinwumi

Zenebworke Bissrat

Paulus Gerdes

Mosebjane Malatsi
(South Africa)

Alfred Zack-Williams
(Sierra Leone)


Tennyson Darko
Asst. Dir. ITS, CCSU

Peter K. LeMaire
Professor, CCSU

Website Maintenance

Nana Poku


For more information concerning Africa Update
Prof. Gloria Emeagwali
CCSU History Dept.
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06050
Tel: 860-832-2815

Table of contents



             We begin this issue of Africa Update with comparative references to two  major conferences held within the last ten years on Nubian civilization. In the process of discussion, various methodologies and approaches to the Ancient African past are examined. The focus is primarily on Nubia but there are indirect and direct implications for the study of Egypt and other Northeast African kingdoms and empires such as Aksum or Punt.

             Contradictions emerged between one scholar and another and also between the individual conferences. It is argued in the discussion on Nubia, that the most damnable contradictions were those that revealed irrationality, sloppiness and incoherence of thought.

            Nubian Studies has suffered from distorted interpretations and assumptions.  Scholars often characterized  Nubian civilization as a stepchild of  Egyptian civilization.  Recent archaeological studies suggest that Nubian civilization may be much older than  Egyptian.  It has also been established that Nubian civilization is autonomous and in most instances compliment the Egyptian.  Rivalry among the two is an exception and not the norm.

              It is also important to note that both Nubian and Egyptian civilizations are fundamentally African with extensive external relations and interactions.  We now know that Nubia is a source of perhaps the oldest writing system, elaborate divine kingship and belief systems, reputed women rulers, diverse agricultural and industrial skills, and at a later period, a source of rich Christian tradition.

                The second article in this issue of Africa Update focuses on the recent past and present. Adeolu Durotoye of Ibadan University Nigeria employs numerous variables in his assessment of democratic trends in various parts of the continent. He makes reference to Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Gambia and the Benin Republic among others. Is democratic change taking place in Africa at the present time? If not, what accounts for this weakness? What is the real role of the West, including the International Financial Institutions, in this fiasco? What should be done to solve the problem? Dr. Durotoye provides a profound analysis of the subject in language that is crystal clear.  His contribution to this issue of Africa Update is


        The third article deals with indices of human resources development.  In this timely article, Casely Ato Coleman argues for effective human resources development.  To him, sustainable national development is linked to the rate of investment in people, including equity and equality along gender lines.  Ghana sets its priority so as to realize human resource development with backing from international organizations, such as the United Nations.  The author presents solid theoretical assumptions and definitions pertaining to human resource development.

Guest Editor
Professor Ayele Bekerie,
Africana Studies and Research Center,
Cornell University,
New York

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The Study of Ancient Nubia:  Approaches and Methodologies
Gloria Emeagwali, History  Department, CCSU

Eight years separate the 1998 conference on Nubia, held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, and the conference of May 6, 2006, sponsored by the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. The Boston conference focused on the archaeology of Ancient Nubia and the Sudan and took place at the Remis Auditorium in the Museum of Fine Arts. The Graham School of General Studies was the venue for the 2006 conference at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. In this commentary we would identify some of the underlying methodological trends within the discipline of  Nubian Studies and Egyptology,  and the extent to which prejudice and eurocentric ‘orientalism’ continue to plague the practitioners of the discipline. Let us begin by identifying what the two conferences had in common; the various points of omission, whether deliberate or otherwise, and the implications of this trend for scholarship, in general, and Nubiology  and Nubian Studies, in particular.

       Participants in the 1998 conference included Sudanese scholars such as Hassan Hussein Idris of the National Board for Antiquities and Museums; the Director of the Fieldwork Section, National Board for Antiquities and Museums, Salah El Din Mohamed Ahmed; and Khidir Adam Eisa of the University of Khartoum’s Archeology Department. Most were of Nubian ancestry. The newly established Nubian museum at Aswan, Egypt, was the focus of Ossama Abdel Wareth Abdel Meguid, the Director of that museum.  Gaballa Ali Gaballa, at the time, the Egyptian Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, focused on the efforts to collaborate with the Sudanese in terms of archeological research.  However, none of these scholars, was present in Chicago at the Oriental  Institute, nor were there any paper presenters from Sudan, the home of the civilization in focus. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston showed the way to collaborative research with Nubian scholars. The Oriental Institute of Chicago dropped the ball. Even so, the 2006 conference attracted some of the outstanding European and American practitioners in the field, including  Derek Welsby, Bruce Williams, Timothy Kendall and Stanley Burstein, whose work we would reflect on in the course of discussion. Curators of  Nubian and Egyptian Museums in Berlin, Switzerland and Paris were well represented in the MFA conference in 1998.  These included scholars such as Charles Bonnet, .Jacques Reinold and Dietrich Wildung,  of the Swiss, French and German units. They were all associated in one way or the other with the Sudanese National Board for Antiquities and Museums.

        In the Chicago Conference of 2006, presenters included Brigitte Gratien, Director of the French Archeological Mission Site of Gism El Arba, in Northern Sudan,  and Derek Welsby, Assistant Keeper in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan -  a scholar who disputed that the ebony colored Nubians were Black, in one of his otherwise well -written texts.1. In fairness to Welsby, though, when confronted about this obvious anomaly  in his otherwise brilliant text,  the distinguished archeologist confessed that the statement was ‘an unfortunate mistake.’2  Then there was  Stanley Burstein, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at California State University, who dared to publish an excerpt  purportedly from Simonides the Younger, which claimed that the Egyptians were in fact of Nubian origin. See Ancient African Civilizations: Kush and Axum, Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton.,1998.  It is important to note that the account cited by Burstein  appears also in  The Library of History of the  veteran Sicilian historian,  Diodorus Siculus:

 They say also that the Egyptians are colonists sent out by the Ethiopians,Osiris having been leader of the colony………And the largest part of the customs of the Egyptians are, they hold Ethiopian, the colonists still preserving their ancient manners.3

      Participating in these conferences, were distinguished  scholars,  among whom was Bruce Williams, author of eight volumes on the Oriental Institute’s Nubian Expedition of the 1960s.  Dr. Williams is a  well known veteran in the field, whose only ‘misstep’ in the bizarre world of  the academic politics of the 1980s,  was his discussions  and scholarly commentary about an incense burner,   excavated at Qustul, Nubia, and his confirmation  from the standpoint of archeology of what Diodorus Siculus had posited two millennia earlier about Nubian –Egyptian interconnections.4.  As we would  discuss later on, since then, the veteran scholar  has amassed a formidable arsenal of facts  related to Nubian  ‘participation’ in the formation of  Egyptian civilization.

       Timothy Kendall, formerly of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was present at both conferences, eloquently presenting   variations of the same theme, namely, the mythological birthplace of Egyptian Kingship at Jebel Barkal. However, the Nubians seem to have won the struggle for ‘the primeval crown’ in Boston, but lost it in Chicago. In Boston we were told that the man with the ram head and a disk was a Nubian representation of Ammon, also known as Amun or Amen, and that the Nubian religious items were absorbed by the Egyptians. In Chicago, such developments seemed improbable to the professor, and he proceeded to make the outrageous claim that Nubians were totally cut off ‘by arid and rough terrain’ from Egypt, and, that there were no interconnections. Within ten seconds  during question time, the professor contradicted the entire argument that he had so meticulously given in Boston, and,  to some extent even in his Chicago paper, in a manner that was to say the least, unconvincing and desperate.  When someone from the audience implied that Nubia was the prime source of Egyptian gold, the professor had no credible response.  In sum, Timothy Kendall’s presentation was  mildly schizophrenic if you take into consideration his  excellent presentation at Boston and  the contradictory statements in Chicago.  

          One would expect that  some of the more famous  Egyptian documents from the Old and Middle Kingdoms were  known by the average Egyptologist and Nubiologist.  Thanks to Miriam Lichtheim, we are aware of what  Harkhuf, the Egyptian  Governor of  Southern Egypt had to say about   his visits to Nubia around 2323BCE, during the 6th dynasty:

                The majesty of Mernere, my lord, sent me together with my father, the sole

                 companion and lector- priest, Iri,  to Yam, to open the way to the country.

                 I did it in seven months; I brought from it all kinds of beautiful and rare

                 gifts and was praised for it greatly. His majesty sent me a second time alone.

                 I went up on the Yebu road and came down via Mekher, Terers and Irtjetj

                  in the space of eight    months. I came down bringing gifts from that country

                  in great quantity, the likes of which had never before been brought back

                  to this land.  5

Thankfully,  Governor Harkhuf did not fall off a cliff, or slip into quicksand, while visiting Nubian terrain,   but lived to tell the tale.

         So what were the major research areas reflected on by the two groups of scholars converging in Boston and Chicago in 1998 and 2006, respectively? Were we to learn anything new by 2006? Were we given old wine in new bottles, or new wine in the old? Had the paradigms changed, or were we confronted with more of the same? Was there a hidden agenda on the part of the various scholars and the arguments they proposed?  Were they transparently honest about their motives and goals?  How could an Institute

ostensibly devoted to the Near East, that is, West Asia, comfortably and legitimately  discuss the African civilizations of Egypt, Nubia and perhaps even Aksum?

          Among the sixteen  issues raised by the scholars converging at Boston in 1998 were discussions on funerary trends in the Nubian Neolithic, around the third cataract, and, new archeological findings related to the major phases in the Nubian historical record. The emergence of the Nubian aristocracy at Napata and Meroe constituted an area of research, with emphasis on the post- Meroitic and Christian era. By 1998 adequate archeological work had already been done by Charles Bonnet on Kerma and the results of these excavations were a major focal point in the discussions.  Meroitic architecture, musical instruments and other artifacts were closely discussed, including some musical instruments found at the Tomb of Queen Amanishaketo. The melodious sounds of the replicas of the proto-clarinets of Meroe delighted the ear, and breathe life into the 2000-year-old instrumentation, on that sunny day in Boston.

                     In the May conference of 2006, Debora Heard, curatorial assistant for the Picken Family Nubia Gallery looked at women in various gender roles and capabilities, including those of queens, priestesses and venerated mothers. These were mainly royal women and members of the elite. Just before this presentation, a member of the audience was bestowed the microphone, a privilege that no one else in the audience had before then. She aired her concern. She wondered over the emphasis of presenters on members of the power elite and the aristocracy, and hoped for a focus on commoners and peasants as well.                 

         This was indeed a useful observation.  Thomas Carlyle’s  “Great Man” theory of history continues to be untenable and the producers of  society’s surplus should never be marginalized by historians. I would argue, though, that  in the case of  Nubia, we are equally interested in the elite because eurocentric scholars go out of their way to focus on Nubians of servile status.  Every Nubian  ‘prisoner of war’  is categorized as a  ‘slave’,  and   the customary rigor  expected of scholars  of  timber and caliber is cast to the wind.  Few show an awareness of the fact that a prisoner of war is not automatically a ‘slave’ but rather  a ‘captive’.  True, he may eventually be enslaved, but he may also be absorbed in the lineage of his captors. He may even stage a coup against his captors  and become part of a new political elite.

          Miss Heard  reflected on a wide range of  issues,  including value systems, the aesthetics of the time, representation, cosmetic use and gender relations. She held her own, in an eloquent and impressive presentation which also  integrated various sculptured images of   individual queens, queen mothers, priestesses and members of the power elite. It so happens that the peasantry  often do not have the resources to project themselves into posterity as extensively as the elite.

          Out of the two symposia, three basic models of ancient Nubia emerged, namely, that of “wretched Nubia” trapped by some kind of environmental depravity- opportunistically expounded by scholars to suit the occasion . It is a lifesaver if you’re an unemployed Egyptologist.  This model is a safeguard against those who dare to project normalcy south of the border-  that is, south of the Egyptian border and the first cataract at Abu or Elephantine. For proponents of this model a  permanently depraved Nubia  juxtaposes well against a  permanently thriving  Egypt, even if the model falsified history in the process.

         There were no diehard exponents of the ‘wretched Nubia’ model in any of the two conferences discussed, although Timothy Kendall came pretty close to this during question time at Chicago, contradicting aspects of his own presentation. The ‘wretched Nubia’ model was a tough sell at the Boston Museum,   overwhelmed by Nubiologists and Egyptologists such as Charles Bonnet, Salah El Din Mohamed Ahmed, Hassan Hussein Idris and Gaballa Ali Gaballa.

          The second model that emerged in the two conferences was the “primordial Nubia” model- a Nubia desperately trying to keep up with the civilized high culture of the Egyptian “Joneses” but only occasionally shedding its “tribal” ways. For researchers deploying this model, Egypt had emerged out of nowhere, fully formed, perhaps in a sanitized bubble- with no biological or ecological connection to the immediate environment. According to this view, Nubians occasionally succeeded in the assimilation process, but often they receded into primordialism.  Embedded in the model are some of the prejudices and insulting propositions of the American Jim Crow era.

          In reality, the proponents of this model are unfettered by time and space. With impunity and by editorial fiat, they would as easily apply the thesis  to 20th century South Africa or  medieval Ghana. The key words in this archaic model are sycophancy, tribalism, dependence, exoticism and neo-barbarism. The model is essentially an offshoot of the colonial  anthropological model of yesteryear, the kind of philosophical system that gave birth to racist perceptions of the other. Eurocentrics are masters of verbal acrobatics and experts at insinuation and double-speak. They thrive on the gullibility of inexperienced readers and put forward a fašade of academic professionalism and false innocence to conceal their real agenda.

               There were no hard core exponents of the model in the two conferences, but, Jacques Leclant, Secretaire perpetual Academie des Belles Letters, Institute de France, Paris, in his discussion of the Egyptian presence in Nubia  at Soleb and Sedeinga, came pretty close to it in some of his explanations, during question time  Stephen Harvey was more enlightened and clearly more attuned to explaining the Nubians as normal human beings, but there were some disturbing assumptions in his presentation, and, more than a whiff   of condescension and paternalism in his comments on Nubia. The problem with Mr. Harvey was his use of outdated concepts of colonial anthropology such as ‘tribe” and ‘tribalism’ and a rather anachronistic perception of cultural norms and values as they evolve in a civilization. Mr. Harvey stretched himself beyond his limits and tried to be nice to the Nubians but a castle built on sand is destined to crumble, and so did his analysis.

          By far the most intellectually stimulating model of ancient Nubia was the ‘normal Nubia’ model which saw the Nubians and Egyptians as African peoples migrating from South to North and interacting with their environment, an environment which was not the mythical Garden of Even but which was certainly not a geographical aberration.  The keywords here are not sycophancy and dependence, but rather geopolitics, survival strategies, multilateral exchange, power relations and dignity.

       In the Boston Conference of 1998, Charles Bonnet, a world expert on Kerma, and the Director of the archeological mission at the University of Geneva, projected a society whose culture had various occupational phases. Incidentally his work continues to enrich our understanding of one of the first Kingdoms of Nubia, which he now describes as having  three historical phases, namely, Kerma Ancien, Kerma Moyen and Kerma Classique.6.  He described the towns discovered by 1998 and their chapels and their workshops, about 1000km from Aswan. Imposing palaces dominated the scene and so, too, innumerable burial pits and fabulous tombs in the context of a hierarchical society. The picture that emerged was that of a civilization comfortable with itself and by no means a sycophant; a normal society- and by no means a caricature.

        In the Chicago conference Bruce Williams and Stanley Burstein held the center stage for fairness and depth in their analysis. Dr. Williams argued that Nubian as well as Egyptian civilization should be seen as the culmination of a south to north  movement that manifested itself in similar pottery styles, cattle culture, ceramics,  harpoons and other artifacts. He dated the Neolithic to 10,000BCE and saw  similar cultural and archeological traits  stretching latitudinally,  from the Atlantic  in West Africa  to the Red Sea in the northeast,  inclusive of the  Sahara  region  and the Nile Valley. One of the earliest  known stele shows up  around the third cataract in Nubian terrain .

         By 3800 BCE the localization of culture began .  Nubian Qustul took center stage. A cemetery of about 30  tombs was  identified in   the royal cemetery.  According to Bruce Williams, the incense burner reflected some of the symbols that would  be later seen in Egypt, such as a palace fašade, the elongated white crown, sail boats, and  falcons.  It also reflected  the first of the great lion gods. The distinguished scholar pointed out that Nubia was the starting point for  the kind of  political  symbolism that appeared later in Egypt, and that  royal symbols such as seals, the hall mark of administration,  falcons, animal procession art, vultures devouring the slain, all of these  show up in Nubian Qustul, initially. The golden fly, a symbol later used  in Pharaonic  Egypt, appeared  in Qustul at that early date, in a tomb of a high official.  The  expert  archeologist, author of seven books on Nubia,  including a ground breaking one on ancient Nubian textile, concluded that a south to north movement began the monumental cultures of Northeast Africa, including that of Egypt.7 There was widespread sharing of pottery styles and symbolic culture, but even so ‘ it was not just about the Nile.’ One had to take into consideration adjacent terrain and cultural similarities which stretched westwards  to the Atlantic and Africa’s western seaboard.

           Burstein’s focus was on Nubian - Greek interaction during the Meroitic phase. Time and space do not allow me to go into the specifics of his presentation at the present time, but, Burstein maintained a balanced illuminating account and made no attempt to employ a patronizing interpretation of the Nubian past. With Burstein, eurocentrism did not rear its hideous head, and,  Nubians and Greeks  processed across the historical stage, and interacted with each other with dignity.

        We thank Bruce Williams and Stanley Burstein, true scholars of Ancient Northeast Africa, for their eloquence, depth of knowledge, mastery of the subject, open- mindedness, fairness, logical consistency and erudition. We thank them for daring to challenge eurocentric orthodoxy,  and,  for shedding the dogma that has haunted the discipline for most of its history. Bruce Williams’ holistic regional account of Northeast Africa is a superior alternative to the disembodied and truncated eurocentric ‘orientalism’ that some scholars attempted to peddle.

        The collaboration with Sudanese and other African scholars is an intellectual imperative for understanding ancient northeast Africa, and the Harvard conference of 1998  was a role model in this regard. The study of Africa in antiquity can only thrive in an open-minded environment  devoid of  prejudice and opportunism.

1.        Welsby, The Kingdom of Kush: The Napata and Meroitic Empires, Markus Wiener, Princeton, New Jersey, 1998. 
2.        I  interviewed   Dr. Welsby very briefly  on this issue at the Oriental Institute ,
          Chicago, May 6, 2006. 
3.        See Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, vol 2. Book 111.p. 93,
    Loeb Classical Library,  Harvard University Press, MA. ,2000. 
4.        See Diodorus Siculus.  
5.        Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, volume 1: The Old and Middle Kingdom, University of California Press, 1975, p.25. (Reissued 2006) 
6.          See Welsby and Anderson, Sudan: Ancient Treasures, British Museum Press, London, 2004

7.         See the following works by Bruce Williams, published by Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK:Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier, Part 9: Noubadian X-Group Remains from Royal Complexes in Cemeteries Q and 219 and Private Cemeteries Q, R, V, W, B, J, and M at Qustul and Ballana, Oxbow Books, UK.
Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier, Part 8: Meroitic Remains from Qustul Cemetery Q, Ballana Cemetery B, and a Ballana Settlement, Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK.
Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier, Part 7: Twenty-Fifth Dynasty and Napatan Remains at Qustul Cemeteries W and V, Oxbow Books, Oxford ,UK
Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier, Part 6: New Kingdom Remains from Cemeteries R, V, S, and W at Qustul and Cemetery K at Adindan , Oxbow Books, UK;
Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier, Part 5: C-Group, Pan Grave, and Kerma Remains at Adindan Cemeteries T, K, U, and J , Oxbow Books, UK;
Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier, Parts 2, 3, and 4: Neolithic, A-Group, and Post A-Group Remains from Cemeteries W, V, S, Q, T, and a Cave East of Cemetery K, Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK.
Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition Excavations Between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier, Part 1: The A-Group Royal Cemetery at Qustul, Cemetery L, Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK.
Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition Excavations between Abu Simbel and the Sudan Frontier (EASSF) (Oriental Institute 1986-1992). Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK.

8. See Stanley Burstein’s Ancient African Civilizations: Kush and Axum, Markus Wiener, 1998; Graeco-Africana, Studies in the History of Greek Relations with Egypt and Nubia, Aristide d Caratzas, 1995; Reign of Cleopatra, Greenwood, 2004.

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Democratic Transitions in Africa since the 1990s,
Adeolu A. Durotoye


“The last decade of the twentieth century brought dramatic political changes to Africa. The whole continent was swept by a wave of democratization. From Tunisia to Mozambique, from Mauritania to Madagascar, government after government was forced to compete in multi-party elections against new or revitalized opposition movements. To use South African President Thabo Mbeki’s words, the continent was experiencing a political “renaissance “…by 1999; the number of multi-party constitutions on the continent had risen from 9 to 45. Granted, several of these “multi-party democracies” amounted to paper exercises only, but many more proved to be fruitful. Momentous occasions such as that when Kenneth Kaunda, president of Zambia for 27 years, respectfully bowed to the will of the people in 1991, or Nelson Mandela’s victory in South Africa’s first non-racial elections, demonstrated that multi-party democracy had gained a foothold, however precariously, on the African continent.

”-Alex Thomson, An Introduction to African Politics (second edition), London and NY, 2004, p.228.  

        By the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Western aid donors and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), had concluded that the failure of the development project in Africa could not be unconnected with the lack of democracy in the region. This thinking could be traced to a variant of the democratic peace school that says among others that democracy and peace are twins and that liberal democracy engenders peace and accountability, as well as an enabling environment conducive to development. Hence, the IFIs and the international donors incorporated political conditionality to the prerequisites for economic assistance. This and other reasons to be mentioned in this paper led to what is now termed “the globalization of democracy” in the 1990s. The wind of democracy blew through many African states that used to be notorious for despotic and autocratic regimes.

     To be sure, about 40 of the 48 sub-Saharan African countries had undergone significant political reforms in the early 1990s, with some concluding the first competitive elections in a generation. However, few political institutions were strengthened by regime transition. In most cases, the State’s ability to respond to citizen’s needs, by ensuring law and order throughout the nation, and by providing basic services to low-income populations is still seriously deficient in many countries. Judicial and legislative institutions remained weak, while past practices of clientelism, rent seeking, and fraud remained well and alive. Although one-party and military rule have become defunct, ruling parties have continued to embark on a monopolistic style of rule while opposition parties, the press, labor unions, and other pressure groups have not proved strong enough to enforce the accountability, and transparency needed for democratic governance.

     We set out to examine how democratic these countries have been and whether or not the expectation that democracy will resuscitate economic growth has been met. For instance, are Africans reaping the harvest of democracy or only weathering the storm of democratization?


Democracy: Conceptual Issues

Democracy is generally taken to mean “rule by the people”. This direct form of democracy could only be traced to the city-states of ancient Greece. Democracy in the Western world is a different ball game where representative democracy is in vogue. This is due to a number of reasons: the institutions of democracy are too complex to be governed directly by the people; Citizens are too busy with other affairs than to be directly involved in the art of governance. Hence, as in a Hobbesian state, they submit their right to rule to a group of representatives through regular elections expected to be free and fair, with laws put in place to allow free competition between individuals, freedom of speech, a free press and a secret ballot - with the opportunity to remove the representatives in an election if found unworthy. The most cited definition of modern democracy is Abraham Lincoln’s variant of “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.

However, there are other variants of democracy. The Marxists’ variant notes that there can be no true democracy without social justice-true democracy can only be brought about by a proletarian revolution when the exploited working class has overthrown the dominant ruling bourgeois class which will ensure a situation where the government will exist for the common good of all with the ultimate goal of establishing a classless society. To Marxists therefore, multiparty competition is a ruse used to manipulate the masses into supporting political structures that serve to sustain the hegemony of the bourgeois and economic exploitation. With the failure and eventual collapse of communism, the Marxists’ position may probably have been thrown in the dustbin of history.

Other variants of democracy lie with the conceptions of democracy by third world leaders as elucidated by McPherson (cited in Francis Enemuo, 1992:28). The former Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere espoused a concept of democracy derived from African tradition:  “where, then, you have the freedom and well-being of the individual, who has the right freely and regularly to join with his fellows in choosing the government of his country, and where the affairs of the country are conducted by true discussion, you have democracy” (Enemuo).

Democracy did not thrive in the first three decades of African independence because “…the continent’s political leaders (at independence) considered pluralist competition to be destructive. They favored more unified and centralized mechanisms of government. The argument ran that multi-party politics would only serve to deepen ethnic divisions, as well as deflect the new states from their primary tasks of nation-building and economic development. Consequently, one party states became the most common form of political representation.” (Alex Thomson, 2004:231). However, the truth behind Africa’s leaders rejection of democracy at independence had not much to do with their desire to concentrate on development but the insecurity dilemma occasioned by the fact that most of these African leaders in the immediate post-independence era were cronies of the out-going colonial masters, and were imposed on the people to serve the interest of impostors, even though unpopular. Submitting themselves to multiparty election would therefore be tantamount to risking access to the spoils of office.  


African Democracies in the 1990s 

            The wind of democracy in the 1990s in sub-Saharan Africa had two dimensions both domestic and international. The international dimension had to do with the imposition of political conditionality by western donors while the domestic dimensions had to do with civil unrests that pressed the button for political reforms. The number of political protests in Africa rose astonishingly from an average of 20 incidents annually to about 86 major protests in 1991 setting the pace for “forced political reforms”- (Michael Bratton/Nicolas Van de Walle, 1997:3). For instance, in January 1989, students of the National University in Cotonou, Benin Republic, embarked on a protest claiming non-payment of long-delayed scholarships, and lack of guarantee of public sector employment for university graduates. This action triggered off several protests by civil servants who were not paid for months. The protests twisted the arms of the then autocratic ruler, Mathieu Kerekou to embark on political reforms via the convening of a “national reconciliation conference” leading eventually to a democratic election that eased Kerekou out of power and brought in former World Bank official, Nicephore Soglo.           

Benin has witnessed two elections leading to the return of Kerekou and the latest one in which Kerekou was not allowed to contest. “Transitions away from one-party and military regimes started with political protest, evolved through liberalization reforms, often culminated in competitive elections, and usually ended with the installation of new forms of regimes” (ibid: 3). Generally, isolated demonstrations would spring up in the urban areas with protesters initially fighting the austerity measures of the Structural Adjustment Programs and later calling for political reforms. The civil society, made up of churches, students’ and trade unions, ethnic associations, women’s organizations, professional bodies, farming cooperatives, community and political groups, was rejuvenated to demand for political reforms. In addition to domestic pressure was the impact of the international environment that favored a move towards political pluralism. The donors and IFIs were looking for an explanation for the failure of their development assistance and programs to bring about growth and they felt that the lack of democracy was the culprit.

      Increase in mass protests and pressure from the international milieu precipitated elite decisions to undertake political reforms, which ultimately resulted in competitive elections and democratic transitions.

African Political Systems, 1988

29 One-party systems
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sa Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, Zaire, Zambia

10 Military Oligarchies
Burkina Faso, Chad, Ghana, guinea, Lesotho, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda

10 Multi-party Constitutions
Botswana, Egypt, The Gambia, Liberia, Mauritius, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia, Zimbabwe

2 Monarchies
Morocco, Swaziland

2 Racial Oligarchies
Namibia, South Africa
Source: Alex Thomson, An Introduction to African Politics (second edition), London and NY, 2004, p.230

African Political Systems, 1999

45 Multi-party constitutions Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, south Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe

3 Military Oligarchies
Burundi, Libya, Zaire

2 Monarchies
Morocco, Swaziland

1 with no central government

1 No Party government

1 One-party system

Source: Alex Thomson, An Introduction to African Politics (second edition), London and NY, 2004, p.230

Political Liberalization or Real Democracy?


For one to conclude whether or not African states have truly witnessed real/ideal democracy, a few checklists will suffice, with Nigeria serving as our case study. This is not to assume that the situation is exactly the same across Africa as there are few exceptions.


  1. Do People organize freely in different Political Parties?

In Nigeria, as in most African countries, the answer is not in the affirmative. The recent re-registration exercise of the ruling party in Nigeria, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a case in point. Party cards were not made available to party members believed not to be loyal to the President’s third term agenda. Such people were not allowed to partake in the party congresses from the Ward to the Federal level and hence were precluded from the election of party officials. The new party officials elected in such circumstances have brazenly exercised the power to fire party members through the instrument of suspension and expulsion as they deemed fit. In other words, political parties, especially the ruling parties, have been hijacked by a few cabals at the expense of the principle of freedom of participation. This practice is widespread in other African countries.


  1. Is Power Decentralized to local governments?

The answer here is not in the affirmative either. “Since the return to civil rule, Nigeria has witnessed several intergovernmental conflicts over jurisdictional powers. This is occurring not only between the states and local governments, but also between the state governments and the federal government. The federal structure has come under attack in these conflicts as the state governments challenge the national government’s actions in channeling revenue directly to the local governments, in making first-line deductions from the Federation account and in making unilateral decisions on proceeds from privatization and excess crude oil sales, and so on.” (Remi Aiyede, 2005:220). In fact, the Nigerian State has been referred to as an “Over-centralized state”. The Federal government is the “god father” that holds the determining power of “who gets what, when and how”. In most African states, the federal government controls the electoral commission, and the police, two key bodies in determining the direction of any electoral contest. The local governments are also tied to the apron string of the state governments through whom revenue allocations to the local governments from the federation account are channeled. In not a few cases, state governments are accused of embarking on regular deductions from the local government allocations under the guise of joint projects for which the state is not accountable to the local governments.    

        Elected local government chairmen have been denied their mandate by their state governments (as in the case of Oyo State in Nigeria) who are empowered to conduct the swearing in of the new local government chairmen. The over-centralization of power and resources has led to the increasing crisis over revenue allocation especially in the Niger Delta. The restive youth in the Niger Delta have evolved a new strategy of kidnapping expatriate oil workers in a bid to drive home their case for control of the oil resources in their regions. Hence, with the over-centralization of power, a practice typical of military and one-party regimes, the vital ingredients of “intergovernmental frameworks (which) are the workhorses with which federalism gets the job done” (Ibid, 2005:229), has been eroded.

  1. Is Power Institutionalized or Personalized?

Power in African democracies continues to be personalized. Although there are institutions put in place, these institutions are weak and operate at the whims and caprices of Mr. President. The legalization of “disorder as political instruments” (Patrick Chabal & Jean-Pascal Daloz, 1999) continues in most African States. In Nigeria, incidents believed to be unconnected to political assassinations are widespread, while politically masterminded attacks on political opponents are commonplace. The former Governor of Anambra State, Chris Ngige was kidnapped by agents of his political godfather, Chris Uba, in broad daylight, with the connivance of the police. The self-confessed election rigger, mastermind of the kidnap and arson on the state governments is still walking the streets as a free man in Nigeria. The Oyo State (Nigeria) saga is another case in point. The State Governor, Rasheed Ladoja, was removed in a most unconstitutional manner after he fell out of favor with his political godfather who openly accused him, among other things, of not sharing the State’s monthly security fund allocation with him. The political instrumentalization of disorder refers in the words of Chabal and Daloz to “the process by which political actors in Africa seek to maximize their returns on the state of confusion, uncertainty, and sometimes even chaos, which characterizes most African polities” (Ibid: xviii).

                 The unofficial continues to be more significant than the official. Although African political systems are akin to those of the West in terms of institutions, constitutions, and the rule of law, “in reality, it is the patrimonial and infra-institutional ways in which power is legitimated which continue to be politically most significant.” (ibid). Whereas, in the West, there is an existence of independent administration characterized by the separation of private interests from the interests of the state, in Africa, the state continues to be regarded as a private resource, and nepotism and corruption, with a few exceptions, continue to be seen as normal. “Hence, the notion that politicians, bureaucrats or military chiefs should be servants of the state does not make sense. Their political obligations are, first and foremost, to their kith and kin, their clients, their communities, their regions, or even to their religion. All such patrons seek ideally to constitute themselves as “Big Men”, controlling as many networks as they can. To succeed as a “Big Man” requires resources. Extensive the networks of association increase the need for the means of distribution. The legitimacy of African political elites, such as it is, derives from their ability to nourish the clientele on which their power rests. It is therefore imperative for them to exploit governmental resources for patrimonial purposes” (Ibid: 15).

To be sure, wealth and resources are essential prerequisites for the maintenance of power, because a political leader who does not utilize the state as a resource for himself and his supporters cannot maintain his influence. It is a factor of the personalization of power in Africa that has led to the recent call for a constitutional change in Nigeria and The Gambia to enable the Presidents run for the presidency for the third time whereas the constitutions that brought them to power have specified a maximum of two terms in office. Section 137 Sub-section 1 (b) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria stipulates that “a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if – (b) he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections.” Part of the arguments for the extension of Obasanjo’s tenure was that he would be allowed to complete the economic reforms he started! The Nigerian constitution is now in the process of being amended to allow Obasanjo to run a third time. Reports have it that members of the National and State Assemblies are being financially induced to make this a reality. Whilst the Obasanjo administration seems to be fighting corruption in one breath, the same administration seems to be using corruption as an instrument to achieve a purpose in another breath. It is clearly an instrumentalization of disorder. A term coined for Nigeria’s democracy is “Baba (father) crazy”, because of the level at which power is personalized by the regime.  


  1. Is There a Clear Separation of Power or is one arm of government suffocating the other arms?

         In many African countries, the executive arm is the progenitor of the other arms. This has eroded the needed checks and balances in democracies. The executive is best placed to suffocate the other arms of government because of the power to allocate resources residing with it. On more than two occasions in Nigeria, the Obasanjo administration in Nigeria was accused of not implementing the Appropriation bill passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by the President. Another case was the approval of ministerial nominees by the senate in the pursuance of its oversight functions. In the case of a nominee, Professor Borishade, who was Minister of Education, between 1999 and 2003, his ministerial nomination was rejected by the senate based on what the senators called “arrogance of power, highhandedness and non-performance” when he was Minister of Education. The President insisted and made him a Minister eventually. President Obasanjo has equally been accused of dictatorial tendencies due to the perceived disregard for the other arms of government. The executive has severally and flagrantly disobeyed judicial injunctions in Nigeria. Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Mohammed Uwais once lamented that the executive who controls the police that could have enforced such rulings was disregarding court rulings. Nigeria’s democracy has been occasionally termed “militocracy” because of the somewhat dictatorial tendencies of the President. 

  1. Is There Realistic possibility that the Opposition Can Gain Power through Elections?

 In most African States, it is not very likely that the opposition will gain power because of the tendency of the ruling party to manipulate the electoral process. Ghana has demonstrated a take-over of government by the opposition party. This may have been so because Jerry Rawlings did not run in that election. In a situation where the incumbent president runs, a change of political baton rarely takes place. In Nigeria, there are over 30 registered political parties. However, democracy cannot be measured by the quantity of competitors alone but their quality as well. Only a few of them can boast of any measure of activity not to talk of likelihood of winning an election. Most of these parties are not able to offer alternative policy choices and leadership options at elections. Some of these political parties in Africa have been described as “vanity parties” (John Wiseman, 1996:70. Samuel Huntington’s work is relevant here (Samuel Huntington, 1991:267). He notes that free and fair elections have to result in two turnovers of government for a state to pass the true test of democracy. It shows that both the incumbents and the oppositions are subservient to the wish of the people. In Africa, only Mauritius, Benin and Madagascar can be said to have passed Huntington’s ‘double turnover’ test. Elsewhere, the ruling parties are still best positioned to win any election by hook or crook.

  1. Are the Governors Accountable to the Governed?

In a democracy, the governors must be accountable to the governed. Mechanisms that allow for political accountability in a democracy are regular free and fair elections; recall instruments, free press and freedom of speech and an independent and impartial judiciary. In most African states, this is not the situation. The governors are not accountable to the governed and they act in most cases at their own behest. The instrument of recall enshrined in the Nigerian 1999 constitution has been seriously manipulated in each case where the electorate attempts to recall their representatives. There is an ongoing effort by the people of Plateau Central senatorial district in Nigeria to recall their representative in the Senate who happens to be the Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu. Although the recall is politically motivated, the handling of the process by the Independent Electoral Commission has been anything but impartial.  Because the Electoral Commission is always at the mercy of the ruling party, elections are not always free and fair.  Hence free and fair election, a vital instrument of political accountability remains a dream and the wishes of the electorate are mostly substituted with the wishes of the ruling elite.


  1. Is there a Separation Between the State and the Ruling Party

There is no clear distinction between the state and the ruling political party in most African states. The State is therefore a ‘partial’ state and there is no level playing ground on which the political parties can compete. Without a clear-cut distinction between the ruling party and the state, the resources of the state are usually used to promote the interest of the ruling elite within the ruling party and not the national interest.  


Why Has Real Democracy Eluded Africa 

1.       Hurried Transitions

One of the problems of democratic consolidation in Africa has been attributed to the hurried nature with which the transitions were concluded. “Indeed, for the 35 sub-Saharan African countries that underwent regime change by December 1994, the median interval between the onset of transition and the accession to office of a new government was just 35 months (and just 9 months in Cote d’Ivoire). Compared with the recent experiences of Poland and Brazil, where democratization evolved gradually over periods of at least a decade, African regime transitions seemed frantically hurried. Insofar as democratization involves the institutionalization of procedures for popular government, precious little time was available for such procedures to take root, implying that the consolidation of democratic institutions in Africa will be problematic in years to come” (Michael Bratton/Nicolas Van de Walle, 1997:5).


2.        “Anti-democratic” Political Cultures

Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, in their work “The Civic Culture” defined political culture as ‘specifically political orientations-attitudes toward the political system and its various parts, and attitudes toward the role of the self in the system” (Cited in Adeolu Durotoye, 2001:11)  In a more simplistic form, I define political culture as the attitude of the ruling elite and the masses to political power. In the case of the African ruling elite, political power is always seen as a means of self-enrichment because power is personalized and there is no clear demarcation between the state and the ruler.

Economic well being of the citizenry is secondary in the consideration of the ruling elite in Africa and political manifestoes are just a ruse to deceive the electorate whose votes do not matter in the final analysis as long as the ruling party remains in control of the electoral apparatus. Role conception is therefore a factor of the political culture in a particular society. On the other hand, the attitude of the masses to political power also determines their “expectation”-role expectation- in any political system. African masses are somehow tolerant of misuse of political power for self-enrichment when compared with the masses in the West. In most cases, they rather seek access to political office holders so they can partake of the “national cake”. In Western Nigeria, there is now a slang called “Jeun Sapo”, a term which means “put food (money) in your pocket”-an encouragement to politicians to steal while in office since they do not know what tomorrow holds in stock for them. Where mass culture is tolerant of corruption, the expectations of the ruling elite are awkward and political accountability, non-existent. 


3.       Pressures from the International Financial Institutions (IFIs)

        and the Insincerity of the West


Part of the problems confronting democratic and economic development in Africa is the pressure the IFIs always mount on African rulers to embark on economic reforms that are punitive at least in the short run. The Structural Adjustment programs of the Breton Woods institutions have not brought about the much needed change in Africa. Although the IFIs have put the blame of the failure of their programs at the doorstep of the African ruling elite, the fact is that some of their measures are in themselves anti-democratic. For instance, removal of subsidy is always too harsh on the poor.  Government subsidy is the only “welfare package” that African people benefit from their governments. When such subsidies are removed as dictated by the Western IFIs, African leaders become dictatorial as the people try to resist. Besides, reforms of the public sector as dictated by the IFIs always result in widespread increases in unemployment and cuts in public services. African leaders are therefore found in a state of, what I call elsewhere, a confused agenda,  (Adeolu Durotoye, 2000) as they are lost between what the leaders think will benefit their people and what they have to do to be in the good books of the IFIs and the foreign donors.

“The present regime in Nigeria is torn between what it believes it should do to move the country forward and what it has to do due to the fear of incurring the hostility of its creditors in the West.  It is forced to implement a development agenda it does not believe in.  It is torn between unpopular neoliberal economic reforms that will, at least in the short term, bring hardship on the already impoverished and worn-out population, and   the need for social justice and poverty reduction for the people. The government is torn between the pressures for the restructuring of the federation and the fear of disintegration, between the need to fight corruption, on one hand, and the need to maintain political loyalists through patronage for its own political survival on the other hand, between the need to resuscitate the economy and consolidate democracy, and the intensification of economic and social pressures that threaten the state itself.  All this will in the end result in a confused agenda…” (Ibid.17). Equally, the western industrialized countries do not show sincerity in their commitment to democracy in Africa and tolerate governments who manipulate the constitution at will to suit their personal interests as long as such a government protects their interests.



We talked about the wave of democratization that hit Africa in the 1990s. This was due in part to the upswing in political protests, pressures from the international community and rejuvenated civil society. It is believed that democracy will create an enabling environment for economic growth. However, the much expected outcome of democracy has been but elusive. This paper tries to provide answer for this. What happened in Africa in the 1990s could be said to be mere political liberalization without real democracy. Hurried transition, anti-democratic political cultures and pressures from the IFIs have all conspired to kill real democracy and obstruct development.

To achieve real democracy that will create an enabling environment for growth, there must be a re-orientation on the part of the governors and the governed in the area of role conception and role expectation. A new political culture can make this possible  -such a culture that will cherish political accountability that will bring about credible opposition, clear separation between the state and the ruling party/elite, and ensure regime change from time to time. Equally important, the IFIs should be more humane in their expectations of African governments, in a way that would make them democratic in implementing the apparently unavoidable medication of the West.

         Unfortunately, the African masses are still weathering the storm of democratization. They are yet to reap the benefits.



1.       Adeolu Durotoye, (2000) The Nigerian State at a Critical Juncture, The Dilemma of a Confused Agenda, University of Leipzig Papers on Africa (ULPA), Politics and Economic series 

2.       Adeolu Durotoye, (2001) Nigerian-German Relations: The Role of Political Culture, (Munster, Hamburg, Berlin, London). 

3.       Alex Thomson, (2004), An Introduction to African Politics (Second Edition) (New York) 

4.       Francis Enemuo: (1992). The Resurgence of Multi-Party Democracy in Africa: What Hopes for the Downtrodden (Nigerian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 18, No. 2) 

5.       Gabriel Almond & Sidney Verba: (1963), The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations (Princeton). 

6.       John Wiseman, (1996). The New struggle for Democracy in Africa, (Aldershot, Avebury).

7.       Michael Bratton/Nicolas Van de Walle, (1997) Democratic Experiments in Africa: Regime Transitions in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge).

8.       Patrick Chabal & Jean-Pascal Daloz, (1999) Africa Works: Disorder As Political Instrument, (London). 

9.       Remi Aiyede, (2005) Intergovernmental Relations and the Strengthening of the Nigerian Federation, in Ebere Onwudiwe/Rotimi Suberu (eds.) (2005), Nigerian Federalism in Crisis: Critical Perspectives and Political Options, (Ibadan: PEFS). 

10.     Samuel Huntington, (1991) The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, (Norman)


The Millennium Challenge Account and Human Resources Development (HRD) of Ghana
Casely Ato Coleman,*
Director , Human Resources,
Plan International, Senegal


This paper is informed by the critical role of human resources development in the rapid development of any nation. Human resources development (HRD) is defined as all the policies, programs, processes and activities that go into identifying, nurturing, developing and appropriately rewarding the talents and capabilities of an individual. It is a process to facilitate personal and professional development, to reinforce self belief in a person to realize his/her full potential in a sustainable manner.

Investing in people in HRD involves an understanding of the concept of talent management at the community, corporate and country level with due consideration of the broader issue of diversity.  Talent management refers to all activities and interventions designed to build the capacity of a person to acquire and develop competencies to fill critical roles in the economy and wider society. Competencies is defined as the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes required by a person to perform a role effectively.(Schoonover 2000) Diversity refers to individual differences based on gender, age, race, religion. Within the framework of public policy, investing in people in HRD means access to quality educational systems, efficient health care systems, vibrant labor market and fair adjudication systems for protecting the human rights of individuals, groupings and sectors within the country. HRD is linked to the fundamental human rights of a person to realize his/her full potential.  

Investing in people, which is the basic logic underlying HRD, can be conceptualized from a broader diversity perspective. A diversity perspective helps to identify the issues, prospects and challenges that must be addressed in a sustainable manner to promote HRD. It also takes due consideration of the needs and interests of the different and diverse social segments/ categories within the wider society. The potential advantage is the design and delivery of sustainable solutions and policies in that regard. Gender is an aspect of individual differences, and a component of diversity. An understanding of gender diversity helps to identify the issues of equity and equality in all aspects of human resources development. 

A basic indicator of human development, the UN human development index (HDI) is supplemented by a gender related index(GDI) which is seen as the reference for comparing as objectively as possible gender inequities between all countries.  A complete chapter in the 1995 human development report focuses on measuring gender inequality. There are two UN specific gender indexes, which are updated every year. These are  gender empowerment measure (GEM), which is a composite index measuring gender inequality in three basic dimensions of empowerment (economic participation and decision-making), political participation and decision-making, and power over economic resources.  The gender-related development index (GDI) is a composite index measuring average achievement in the three basic dimensions captured in the human development index—a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living—adjusted to account for inequalities between men and women. Indexes are available for almost all African countries.   

In the 1995 HDR report, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Sierra Leone were amongst the countries at the extremely lowest levels, placing 126,127,128,129 respectively out of a total population sample of 130 countries. Ghana placed 91. The African Center for Gender and Development (ACGD) was created in March 1975 and it has started developing an African Gender Development Index (AGDI) that will be used as a measurement tool for assessing gender gaps and disparities between men and women in priority areas.  

This Index covers the 53 African countries and is intended to offer a tool for comparing women's and men's situations in the social, economical and political context, to monitor progress and achievements on the ratified conventions by African countries. It is in line with the African Union Summit of Maputo July 2003 which agreed on the need to have Gender Equity and Equality targets that should be monitored with the new index tool. Without doubt, gender has been realized as an important indicator for assessing social and economic development due to the fact that it constitutes one of the core structural causes of poverty and therefore needs to be addressed in any program to promote HRD. From the public policy perspective a diversity framework helps to critically review the gamut of diverse variables, including gender, that have an impact on developing and retaining a quality human resource base for sustained national development. This includesaccessibility to quality education, better health, micro credit, vocational skills training and promotion of the rights of children. 

 The MCA concept which supports investing in people, we submit, is in line with the fact that a country's other resources will remain untapped and under-utilized without HRD. This is because the existence of agricultural land and other natural resources by themselves do not make a country rich. A well-developed human resources base, is what is needed to transform natural resources into consumable products and services.  

Indeed the development of the human resources in Ghana has not kept pace with the changing demands from key sectors of the economy. It is in recognition of this that in his   May 1, 2006, May Day address to Ghanaian workers President John Kufuor said the three priorities of his government, were, HRD, Private Sector Development and Continued Good Governance. He indicated that they would be pursued to attract the critical mass of investment to gain the needed acceleration. Co-incidentally, the theme of Ghana’s 49 years national independence day celebrated in 2006, was developing and retaining a quality human resource base: key for sustaining accelerated national development.”



Against the above background, the purpose of this article is to discuss some of the issues, prospects, challenges, measures and strategies that can be put in place to ensure the realization of Criteria 2 , which is defined as  investing in people within the context of  the government of Ghana’s HRD agenda. 

The paper’s thesis is that without an effective HRD strategy, realizing criteria 2 will be a mirage. An effective human resources development strategy will facilitate the realization of a sustainable national talent management culture, where no sector of the society will be left out to realize their full development potential to contribute towards national development. It will be argued that that any country HRD program aimed at investing in people, can be enhanced conceptually within the broad framework of diversity. 

The paper will first propose a diversity theoretical framework to discuss the various diverse variables inherent in realizing criteria 2. Secondly, it will review and analyze how far Ghana has performed in some selected areas of HRD. Thirdly, it will propose a non partisan country capacity building program strategy as a tool for realizing the concept of investing in people. Fourthly, and within the framework of the country capacity building program strategy, a talent management model will be constructed and discussed as a possible option to help achieve MCA Criteria 2 (MCA C2).

The Theoretical Framework

A diversity perspective is an analytical building block to conceptualize the needs of the different individual segments and social categories at all levels of society.  It helps tobetter understand the prospects and challenges involved in HRD.  It defines the role of women and men, boys and girls, issues of race, disability, and their collective impact in the economy, and institutional mechanisms to recognize, respect and promote diversity into public and private sector HRD policies and practices. It provides a broader perspective to discuss the myriad of diverse factors that must be recognized in order to realize MCA C2 to support the government’s HRD program.


Diversity & Organization Theory

In this paper, diversity is defined as individual differences based on gender, race, ethnic origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, social class, education, religion and political beliefs within the workplace and the wider society (Cox Taylor 1993), Copeland Lennie(1988).  

Mary Gentile(1996:15) offers a very useful model for understanding diversity. She proposes differences arising out of multiple identities, e.g. identification and recognitions as a result of one’s sex and also at the same time identifying with one’s professional peers and other differences defined as evident e.g. gender, race and age and others less evident include religion, political beliefs and sexual orientation( e.g. homosexual, heterosexual, or lesbian). 

Organizational theory refers to the body of knowledge about what organizations are, how they work and how they change. Organizations have various characteristics as open systems which interact with the external environment, as closed systems with specific vision, mission and corporate values and acceptable ways of doing things, and as bureaucratic systems with clear hierarchy, reporting lines, written and unwritten rules, procedures, systems and practices.(Falleta 2005).  

There is a large body of literature examining how diversity relations can be conceptualized within organizations. The key issue has to do with the centrality of power in the structuring of organizational relationships. Social differences and power relations are embedded within organizations and this confers advantages and disadvantages to some individuals and groups. (Anne Goetz 1997). This often is the root-cause of most tensions within organizations, the wider society and country. 

Gender which is a component of diversity, is explained as society’s definition of a person’s roles as result of one’s sex. The idea of gender has arisen due to the importance of recognizing the dilemma of ensuring equity and equality in corporate and national governance.  Equity is defined as the process being fair to women and men, girls and boys to compensate for historical and social disadvantages that prevent them from enjoying a level playing field in life. Equity then leads to equality. Equality means that men and women, boys and girls must have the same equal conditions to release the human rights, and potential and contribute towards all aspects of development (political, economic, cultural and social etc) and to benefit from the results of their contributions. (Okwiry 2004:6) 

 An Integrated FrameworkIn order to conceptualize diversity as an HRD issue, it is useful to understand the basis of human behavior at the organizational level since this helps to appreciate the basis for human diversity within the wider society. 

Human beings irrespective of their situational contexts are diverse. People are variable and their behaviors are sometimes predictable and sometimes not. In this regard, the managerial profession has looked outside the traditional business disciplines for guidance in developing strategies to understand diverse human behavior within organizations, institutions and the wider social context. It has become necessary to refer to the loosely bound collection of academic disciplines commonly referred to as the social sciences concerned with human behavior in social settings. (Rush 1965).


Psychological Diversity of HRD

Psychology concerns the study of individual difference and behavior. It explains why as a result of our nature (biological or genetic make-up) or nurture (the environment of our up-bringing) individuals behave in the way they do. Psychology helps in defining how perceptions (the meanings a person attributes to his environment)  are formed and how they can affect human interaction.  Douglas McGregor’s work on Theory X and Y, Ouchi’s Theory Z, Abraham Maslow work on the hierarchy of needs, and Frederick Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, all provide insights on the source of human motivation and behavior in organizations.(Dinsmore 1990:229-231). 

In recent times one of the most influential work done on understanding individual differences in work organizations is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which was developed by Katherine and Isabel Myers Briggs and influenced by the work of Carl Gustav Jung. The MBTI model asserts that human beings can be classified into different personality types determined by one’s predisposition towards introversion or extraversion, intuiting or sensing, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving.(Myers-Briggs 1980) (Kerisey  1978). 

Every organization, institution and country is made up of individuals with needs to be satisfied from diverse backgrounds. Individuals react to situations in different ways, have different perspectives on issues, and their rights should be respected, and needs managed with due recognition of their diverse individual background. Failure to understand this can result in decisions that create low morale, latent or manifest conflict. An appreciation of the psychological processes of human diversity helps to better conceptualize and understand how and why individuals are diverse and behave the way they do within organizations, institutions and wider country context. This will offer a broader perspective to address such needs in any initiative to invest in people as part of a country HRD program. 

The Political Diversity of HRD

Politics is about the study and manifestation in various forms of power, influence, and competing interests in decision making concerning the allocation of resources. The eminent Political Scientist, David Easton, the Marxist Theory of Social Classes, the Group/Pluralistic Theory of Politics and other various analytical frameworks in political science, have given useful insights on the processes involved in influencing the determination and allocation of power within the state. This paper believes these can also be applied to understand decision making processes at the community, organization and national level. Politics involves the creation of coalitions (mobilization), having a loyal constituency, managing various interests and as and when the need arise, making compromises to facilitate the realization of one’s interests. Tichy’s (1983) Technical Political Cultural model helps to understand the political and cultural dynamics within organizations and how bargaining takes place by interest groups. HRD can therefore be analyzed by looking at how these political dynamics influences HRD decisions that determine the allocations of resources, which the prominent political theorist Harold Laswell describes as “who gets what when and how”. 

Human Resources (HR) policy making process whether at organizational, institutional and national level is underpinned by the above dynamics. Decisions on appointments, promotions, career development, compensation and benefits are very often subject to a degree of political considerations and computations depending on which competing diverse interests are at stake and the extent of bargaining strength. Within any organizational, institutional and country context one can find diverse individuals, groups and teams whose aims are to ensure the protection of their diverse and sometimes competing interests.   A good understanding of politics in broad and contextual terms, help to understand and manage such diverse interests in any program or initiative to invest in people to promote HRD. 

The Economic Diversity of HRD

The “rate for the job” constitutes the first point of engagement between the employer and the employee and this is characterized by transaction cost. Transaction costs is underpinned by labor market variables where the employer as a result of demand-and-supply considerations, enters into a relationship with the employee who is ready to sell it for a price. In effect it is an economic transaction between the buyer and seller and is subject to negotiating the best “deal”. 

Labor markets analysis offer insights into the conceptualization of the production, development and delivery of skilled labor with due consideration of macro economic indicators. An understanding of the principles of economic theory and practice helps to comprehend and assess the diverse economics needs at the individual, organization and country level. This helps to understand the competing interests of the state as an employer and other social partners like employers and trade unions in industrial relations which is the framework for managing HRD issues in employment relations at the corporate and country level. Industrial relations refer to processes and outcomes involving employment relationships (Dunlop 1958). It is the interactions between the social partners, i.e. employers (represented by management), workers(represented by unions) and the state, (represented by government) that regulates all issues concerning HRD. According to Dunlop’s theory of Industrial Relations Systems, the outcomes of their interactions, produces substantive rules(compensation and benefits such as training, career development etc) and procedural rules (collective bargaining, redundancy, grievance and disciplinary procedures).(Coleman, 1996).


Rights, Ethics &Diversity in HRD

Relationship within work organizations are of a legal nature. Within the organization, the relations between the employer and employee requires each party having to exercise rights, and simultaneously fulfill duties and obligations. The relationship has to conform to basic principles of law as they pertain to the execution of rights and responsibilities, and mechanisms. The country’s industrial relations systems define such relationship rules at the organizational and national level. Understanding the legal basis of the employment relations, help to recognize and protect human rights in HRD irrespective of the diverse background of individuals and their social category or differences. This helps to forestall unnecessary conflict and litigation over discrimination in access to HRD opportunities and ensures compliance with due process and legal framework for recognizing and protecting human rights irrespective of ones’ background in social and economic processes. 

HR programs and initiatives aimed at investing in people should follow a logical pattern that “makes sense” and respects ethical considerations of what is acceptable and not-acceptable in the eyes of right thinking people and the wider society in which work takes place. The principle of reasonableness implies recognizing, respecting and mainstreaming diverse rights and interests in all HRD initiatives.  

This section has attempted to construct a theoretical framework of diversity in order to place the discussions that follow in an appropriate context.  

       The next section provides a macro situational context of Ghana. This will help to discuss the diverse issues, prospects and challenges in realizing MCA C 2, (investing in people) within the framework of  the Government of Ghana’s desire to promote HRD. The logic is to situate the discussions within the appropriate country context.   

(To be continued in the Fall issue of Africa Update. Vol X111.4) 

* Casely Ato Coleman has a B.A in Political. Science. & Psychology, University of Ghana, Legon; M.Phil in Public Administration/Organizational Behavior, University of Bergen, Norway and a  MSc. Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, UK.
 He is the Director of Human Resources, Plan International, Senegal,  West Africa.

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