|I'm posting this from a lodge somewhere in the middle of the woods in Yosmite Park, California and people are lining up to use the computer. Apologies for the typos...
Reading the history of "primitive" people is baffling. I keep on wondering what they would think of us (in Africa) now and who would call who primitive. I'm still being inspired by Shorris' Riches for the Poor book. This is a chapter on Force & Power, which gives the history of the Pueblos of the American Southwest and show how the failure to distinguish between the two now is really 'primitive' - well, my own interpretation here.
The Pueblos of the American Southwest drew a clear distinction between force and power.... The Inside Chiefs held power in the form of authority granted to them by the gods and the members of the pueblo. Within the pueblo itself, neither acts of violence nor any other acts of force were permitted. A second group lived outside the pueblo. These were the warlike Outside Chiefs and their band of hunter/warriors. Although the Outside Chiefs had the greater physical strength and ability, the Inside Chiefs held the power of the pueblo. They directed the Outside Chiefs to hunt, make war, and defend the pueblo using whater force was required. The Outside Chiefs could not conduct raids, hunt, or even defend the pueblo without the consent of the Inside Chiefs. Using this convention, the Pueblos were able literrally to maintain a wall between force and power....
I think the mixing up of power and force, the deliberate breaking up of the
wall between the two - which I think is the corner stone of democracy is
clear in Africa. Our leaders are the gods, the inner chief, the
chief and the people...
Shorris defines power as belonging to the people and force to the few.
Force is always lonely, while power never occurs in isolation: one person alone among others cannot have legitimate power. At extremes, ultimate force is one against all, as in a tyrant against the people, while untimate power is all against one, as in the people against a tyrant.
So, in this light, what do African leaders have to say for themselves?