The Postcolonial African State Revisited

  • Kenneth Kalu
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


This chapter reviews the nature and evolution of the postcolonial African state. Continuing from its colonial progenitor, the postcolonial African state has been an instrument of exploitation and predation. During the colonial era, European officials designed all of the institutions of the colonial government to facilitate the extraction and transfer of Africa’s resources for the benefit of Europe. At independence, these institutions remained in place, and African leaders stepped in and inherited the perverse institutions that treated the citizens as subjects. Given this background, the postcolonial African state has not been an agent of development, but has merely facilitated exploitation, corruption and bad leadership by successive African leaders.


  1. Acemoglu, Daron, and James A. Robinson. 2010. Why Is Africa Poor? Economic History of Developing Regions 25 (1): 21–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Calderisi, Robert. 2006. The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. Curtin, Philip. 1989. Death by Migration: Europe’s Encounter with the Tropical World in the 19th Century. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James Robinson, “The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: an empirical investigation,” The American Economic Review 91 no. 5 (2001): 1369–1401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Herbst, Jeffrey. 2000. States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Lovejoy, Paul. 2000. Transformation in Slavery: A History in Slavery in Africa. 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Mamdani, Mahmood. 1996. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Mazrui, Ali, and Francis Wiafe-Amoako. 2016. African Institutions: Challenges to Political, Social, and Economic Foundations of Africa’s Development. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  9. Moghalu, Kingsley. 2014. Emerging Africa: How the Global Economy’s ‘Last Frontier’ can Prosper and Matter. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  10. North, Douglas. 1990. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Pierson, Paul. 2000. Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics. American Political Science Review 94 (2): 251–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Reid, Richard. 2012. A History of Modern Africa: 1800 to the Present. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Google Scholar
  13. Richards, Audrey. 1959. East African Chiefs: A Study of Political Developments in Some Uganda and Tanganyika Tribes. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  14. Salkin, Paul. 1926. L’Afrique Centrale dans cent ans. Paris: Payot.Google Scholar
  15. Schmidt, Elizabeth. 2013. Foreign Interventions in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Stein, Howard, Olu Ajakaiye, and Peter Lewis, eds. 2001. Deregulation and the Banking Crises in Nigeria: A Comparative Study. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  17. van de Walle, Nicolas. 2003. Presidentialism and Clientelism in Africa’s Emerging Party Systems. Journal of Modern African Studies 41 (2): 297–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Welch, Claude, Jr., ed. 1970. Soldier and State in Africa: A Comparative Analysis of Military Intervention and Political Change. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Westad, Odd Arne. 2007. The Global Cold War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. White, Jeremy. 1981. Central Administration in Nigeria, 1914–1948. Dublin: Irish University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Young, Crawford. 1994. The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Kalu
    • 1
  1. 1.Ted Rogers School of ManagementRyerson UniversityTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations