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Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement

  • Peter P. Ekeh (a1)

This paper argues that the experiences of colonialism in Africa have led to the emergence of a unique historical configuration in modern postcolonial Africa: the existence of two publics instead of one public, as in the West. Many of Africa's political problems are due to the dialectical relationships between the two publics. I shall characterize these two publics and attempt to explain some of Africa's political features within the matrix of these publics. In order to give some empirical content to the distinction drawn here, I shall illustrate the issues raised with examples from Nigeria.

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Philip D. Curtin (1964) The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780–1850. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Edward Shils (1957) ‘Primordial, Personal, Sacred and Civil Ties’. The British Journal of Sociology 8:130–45.

Pierre Van den Berghe (1971) ‘Pluralism in a Nigerian University: A Case Study’. Race, 12:429–41.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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