Debate: Democracy vs. Authoritarianism in Africa

Facebook Twitter Email

DiA’s Nic Cheeseman went on the BBC’s News Day programme to talk about his new book Authoritarian Africa. But the interview quickly evolved into a passionate debate about whether the continent would be better off governed by authoritarian or democratic systems.

Hear Professor Cheeseman’s defence of democracy – where he starts by defining authoritarianism and ends by arguing that the continent would not be better off under “strong men” – here.

To buy Authoritarian Africa, click here:


About the book

For more than seventy years, authoritarian rule was the dominant form of government in sub-Saharan Africa. Three-quarters of African states have experienced some form of one-party or military rule since 1945. Accessible and engaging, Authoritarian Africa: Repression, Resistance, and the Power of Ideas is the first book to examine this subject from a historical perspective. Exploring the history and legacy of authoritarianism in Africa–from the colonial era until the onset of democracy in the early 1990s–it introduces students to the variety of authoritarian regimes that have existed on the continent, including one-party states, military rule, and personal dictatorships.

This unique text also provides essential new insights, revising the traditional “story” of African authoritarianism by drawing on primary source materials (from songs to statistics) to provide a fresh, original perspective. Looking at what sustained authoritarian rule in Africa over more than a century, the authors consider the phenomenon on its own terms–not simply as a way station on the road to democracy–and in the context of the continent’s social, political, intellectual, and economic history.

“This is an accessible, engaging take on the history of authoritarianism in Africa that features very unique source material and useful explanations of key political concepts.” –Corrie Decker, University of California, Davis

Authoritarian Africa packs a strong punch in its coverage of modern African states. The primary sources are well-chosen and thought-provoking. It will make a good starting point for instructors to build lectures, discussions, and assignments.”–Amanda Lewis-Nang’ea, SUNY-Geneseo

Authoritarian Africa avoids easy answers to complex problems, and leaves readers with a useful conceptual framework to pursue a further understanding of Africa’s history and politics. It is an immediately useful and timely resource for a variety of history and political science courses, and will offer an ideal starting point for student discussions and original research papers.”–Jesse Bucher, Roanoke College


One thought on “Debate: Democracy vs. Authoritarianism in Africa

  1. “Authoritarian Africa avoids easy answers to complex problems, and leaves readers with a useful conceptual framework to pursue a further understanding of Africa’s history and politics…” This is good. It is good because it recognises ‘complexity’ in the African political discourse – in the same way there is ‘complexity’ in Western political discourse – especially in respect of how social democracy has apparently given way to the rise of populism and authoritarianism in Europe following the financial crisis of 2008. Events in Europe clearly show that, as much as the sway of the pendulum throws one way, so much it will throw the other way; thus giving hope that the African pendulum will one day throw in the way of democracy. This book might be the beginning of good things to come in our understanding of African political development.

Join in the debate... let us know what you think!

Discover more from Democracy in Africa

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading