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The Inevitability of Instability

  • James O'Connell

Political instability upsets particularly those observers whose own countries have had no experience of it for many generations. They often exaggerate its effect on social and economic life and expect the activities of society practically to cease, where governments topple. But, beyond this miscalculation of effects, observers sometimes conclude that governmental instability in the developing countries reflects some human inferiority of their peoples. Unfortunately this kind of belief also tends to take root among literate opinion-makers in the developing countries, who often are no better than outsiders in interpreting the complexities of their own situation. In this development there are dangers of damage to political and social morale which could be much more serious than temporary phases of internal economic disruption and foreign disinvestment. What in fact are the reasons for the fall of governments in post-colonial Africa?

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Page 181 note 1 See Pye, L. W., Politics, Personality, and Nation Building (New Haven, 1962), pp. 1531.

Page 182 note 1 There may also be other goals, such as the protection of minorities, or even the mere favouring of groups with which the colonial administrators felt more affinity than with other groups.

Page 185 note 1 See McLuhan, M., Understanding Media (London, 1967 edn.).

Page 186 note 1 See O'Connell, J., ‘Politicians, Administrators and the Problem of Modernisation,’ in Journal of Administration Overseas (London), VI, 2, 04 1967.

Page 188 note 1 See O'Connell, J., ‘The Concept of Modernisation,’ in South Atlantic Quarterly (Durham N. C.), LXIV, Autumn 1965.

Page 189 note 1 Dudley, B. J., ‘Traditionalism and Politics: a case study of Northern Nigeria,’ in Government and Opposition (London), 07 1967.

* Professor of Government, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.

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The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-278X
  • EISSN: 1469-7777
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies
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