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The return of the kings

Africa's crises cannot be solved by redrawing borders. But economic reform, the decline of the urban middle class and the rise of tribalism are dissolving the old centralised post-colonial state

By Richard Dowden   July 1996

Seek ye first the political kingdom” was Kwame Nkrumah’s rallying call to Africa as he led the charge against imperialism in the 1950s. It was an answer to those who said Africa wasn’t yet ready for self rule-people who urged Africans to seek education, development and wealth, before trying to run their own countries. Nkrumah won the argument and the war. But did he-or any of his fellow founding fathers-find that political kingdom that they sought?

In those triumphant, aid-drenched years of the early 1960s, it did appear that Africa, with its resources, youth and enthusiasm, had a golden future.…

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