Indigenous Administrative Systems and Modern African Public Administration: Are they congruent?


Nkyabonaki, J.


The levelling of administrative systems in pre-colonial Africa would be to see them as systems that propagated the promotion of common good to the community. This has tempted some scholars in the recent years to meditate and gear towards the thinking of native administrative systems. The argument is that Africans had well premised themselves for self-governance before colonialism and its legacy on the continent, Pratt (1965). However, the Eurocentric scholarship authenticity propagates for modernity to be a elixir for Africa`s development. Some scholars such as Ekeh (1975), Riggs (1964) present Africa to be having dual systems in the post independence era. They count this duality as inefficiency for Africa should embrace and romance with modern administrative values and hence, they see the attachment of these systems to be a curse. They argue that, the two systems of administration cannot marry and when they marry the inefficiencies such as corruption, partiality result, Riggs (1964). The post independence administration worked behind the established constitutions (Westminster and Gaullist) by the former colonial masters that are Britain and France respectively. The administrative systems of indigenous and that of colonialism if are compatible, why then has Africa not developed institutions of governance to accommodate such compatibilities? If they are incompatible, what is the way out towards a harmonized system of administration in Africa? The central argument in this paper is that while scholars such as Ekeh 1975 and Riggs find the two systems to create problems for Africa`s administration, I argue that the hybrid system would create strong institutions as its a sine qua non condition for administration development. The quandary of administration in Africa is not due to the compatible model but rather a Western modernist view that Africa`s public administration has not applied in totus the western values which this paper criticises as a myopic outlook. African public administration by its virtue of reform post independence to Africanize and compatibilize some of the already existing and new administration principles is symbolically strength towards administration development.

The litmus test is done to see if post independence public administration attempted to amalgamate indigenous administrative values with modern administration values. If the post independence theory and practice reflect the amalgamation, then it will be put that there is congruency and vice versa. Hence, this paper argues that administration should be reflecting the people’s culture, norms and taboos for the administration development to be realized.


indigenous, administration, public administration, post-independence


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