Introduction Book Chapter

Clark, JF. (2018). Introduction . 1-5. 10.4324/9780429498183

cited authors

  • Clark, JF



  • This book has several sources of inspiration, not the least of which was the startling outburst of political reform that began in sub-Saharan Africa in the waning months of 1989. From the mid-1960s to the end of the 1980s, both Africans and Western observers had come increasingly to take the presence of the one-party state in Africa for granted. The few cases of quasi democracy (Gambia, Botswana, and Senegal) seemed tentative, isolated, and anomalous; as a result, and as one would expect, few scholarly studies of democracy in Africa were undertaken, and these dealt much more with democratic potential than actual democratic experience. 1 Beginning with the revolution in Benin in 1989, however, democracy seemed to gain renewed credibility in sub-Saharan Africa. Fascination with democratic political reforms soon swept the subcontinent, leading to the eventual overthrow of many longtime dictators, some of whom had ruled their countries since independence. Even if one believes that “development” —broadly understood as the alleviation of the severe material deprivation that plagues the lives of so many Africans—is the continents most pressing need, one cannot help but to be impressed with the possibilities for change represented by such reform efforts.

publication date

  • January 1, 2018

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 13

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 5