West Africa: The Formation of National Statehood

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2020, Vol. 6. № 1 (21)

West Africa: The Formation of National Statehood

For citation: Sokova Z. N. 2020. “West Africa: The Formation of National Statehood”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 6, no. 1 (21), pp. 150-165. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2020-6-1-150-165

About the author:

Zinaida N. Sokova, Dr. Sci. (Hist.), Professor, Department of New History and Global Politics, University of Tyumen; z.n.sokova@utmn.ru; ORCID: 0000-0003-4366-3771


The article is devoted to the study of the dynamics of political modernization in West Africa in the first decade of independent development. The author analyses the formation of political systems, the emergence of democratic institutions, and the causes of their crisis as well as the emergence of military and civilian authoritarian regimes. The author draws on legislative acts, documents of state authorities and governing bodies, evidence of contemporaries, expert assessments and explores national mechanisms of political leadership and governance using the examples of Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone.

The national specifics of political systems and the characteristics of political culture exclude the possibility of highlighting the “universal” model of power relations that is valid in all countries of the region. At the same time, a comparison of these processes with similar phenomena that took place in other parts of the post-colonial world allows concluding that the development of the political space of West Africa had regionally special features. At the same time, the country approach to the topic made it possible to identify the specific influence of the state and its institutions on the life of society, as well as to form an idea of the variety of forms and methods of political rule.

The significance of the scientific analysis of the formation of national statehood rests upon the incompleteness of our ideas about the ruling groups and their role in the system of public administration in West Africa. The article shows that many politically active groups of society — professional politicians, military men, officials, technocrats, and leaders of religious organizations — joined the struggle for control over state structures. Social conflicts, coupled with ethnic, regional, confessional contradictions, shook the fragile political regimes that developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.


  1. Abramova S. Yu., Mazov S. V., Lukonin Yu. V., Frenkel M. Yu. (eds). 1985. The history of Ghana in new and Newest Times. Moscow: Science. The main editorial of oriental literature. 304 pp. [In Russian]

  2. Kosukhin N. D. (ed). 2004. Africa: power and politics. Moscow: African Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 124 pp. [In Russian]

  3. Vasiliev A. M. 1995. “Civil society in africa: realities and myths”. Oriens, no. 2, pp. 5-17. [In Russian]

  4. Heveling L. V. 2001. Kleptocracy. The Socio-Political Dimension of corruption and the Negative Economy. The struggle of the African state with Destructive Forms of Power Organization. Moscow: Humanitarian Publishing House of the Academy of Humanitarian Studies. 592 pp. [In Russian]

  5. Denisova T. S. 2015. “Côte d’Ivoire: electoral reforms of F. Houphouet-Boigny”. Scientific notes of the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, no. 3(34), pp. 77-87. [In Russian]

  6. Constitutions of States of Africa. 1963. Moscow: Publisher of Foreign Literature, vol. 1. 750 pp. [In Russian]

  7. Kosukhin N. D. 2007. Africa: The Search for Renewal. The Dynamics of political changes in the late XX — Early Xxi Centuries. Moscow: African Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 237 pp. [In Russian]

  8. Malysheva D. B. 1986. Religion and Socio-Political Development of the Arab and African countries (70-80s). Moscow: Science. 227 pp. [In Russian]

  9. Heveling L. V. (ed.). 1991. The mechanisms of Political Power in West Africa. Moscow: Institute of Africa, USSR Academy of Sciences. 103 pp. [In Russian]

  10. Mirsky G. I. 1976. “Third World”: Society, Power, Army. Moscow: Science. 408 pp. [In Russian]

  11. Savateev A. D. 2012. “Sufi Orders in Tropical Africa — an alternative civilization”. Africa: a New Portal to Globalization. Yearbook. Moscow: Publishing House of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, pp. 250-258. [In Russian]

  12. Sadovskaya L. M. Power and opposition in African society in the late XX — early XXI centuries (for example, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire). Moscow: African Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 152 pp. [In Russian]

  13. Vasiliev A. M. (ed.). 2009. Modern Africa: Metamorphoses of Political Power. Moscow: Oriental literature. 494 pp. [In Russian]

  14. Adamolekun L. 2002. Public Administration in Africa: Main Issues and Selected Country Studies. Ibadan: Spectrum Books. 415 pp.

  15. Coulon C. 1981. Le Marabout et le Prince. Islam etpouvoir au Sénégal. P.: Pédone. 170 pp. https://storage.googleapis.com/cantookhub-media-eden/25/1161992159a0aacbb3be8af79b50d99f797a04.pdf Accessed 28 April 2020.

  16. Federal Republic of Nigeria. 1967. Events in Nigeria in 1966. Policies and Objectives of the Federal Military Government. Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information. 120 pp.

  17. Holas B. 1978. La Cote d’Ivoire. Passe, Present, Perspective. Abidjan: UniversiteNationale de Cote d’Ivoire. 128 pp.

  18. Legum C. 1986. “Democracy in Africa: hope and trends” In: Ronen D. (ed.) Democracy and Pluralism in Africa. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, pp. 158-181.

  19. Medard J.-F. 1992. “L’”big man” enAfrique: Esquissed’analyse du politicien-entrepreneur”. L’anneesociologique, no. 42, pp. 167-192.

  20. Mensah F .O. K. 1976. Government and Constitutional Development in Ghana. Heidelberg, University Publishing. 234 pp.

  21. Nwabueze B. O. 2003. Constitutional Democrary in Africa. Ibadan: Spectrum Books. 364 pp.

  22. O’Brien D. B. C. 1975. Saints and Politicians. Essays in the Organisation of Senegalaise Peasant Society. London: Cambridge University Press. 213 pp.

  23. Odetola T. O. 1982. Military Regimes and Development: a Comparative Analysis of African States. London: Boston: Allen & Unwin. 200 pp.

  24. Sylla L. 1985. “Genese et fonctionnement de l’Etatclientelistetn cote d’Ivoire”. Archieves European de sociologie, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 29-57.

  25. Zolberg A. R.1985. Greating Political Order: The Party-States of West Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 168 pp.