‘Nations emerging from long foreign rule generally lack an independent administrative tradition and a social structure within which it is easy to build a class of national administrations… It is true that in some of the countries concerned, the former administering authority has bequeathed a valuable legacy in the form of an efficient administrative apparatus and sizeable cadres of experienced local officials at many levels. But this is by no means generally so. Even where it is, it does not meet the needs of peoples whose awakening has stirred much deeper feelings of hope and endeavour than were felt under the most enlightened colonial regime.’
These reflections by Dag Hammarskjöld testify to the interest that the late Secretary-General of the United Nations took in the emerging nations of the Third World and their future statehood. However, the timespan of a generation later, it is now clear that it was an imaginary expectation that the transfer of power from imperial nations to sovereign African states would usher in a new era and lead to an upliftment in the living standards of the masses of the people and a combination of effective and democratic government. ‘Progress’ has been much harder to achieve that was held out thirty years ago and today Africa is faced with a steadily increasing maldevelopment. It has become increasingly clear that Africa’s problem is not primarily a lack of talent and know-how but the institutional imbalance created in decades past, both prior to and after independence.
This issue of Development Dialogue attempts to throw light on these issues by presenting material drawn from the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation’s seminar on ‘The State and the Crisis in Africa: In Search of a Second Liberation’.