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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Communality: A Foundation of the African Historical, Cultural, and Socio-Political Tradition

P. 680-681.

The principle of communality is denoted in the paper as ability of originally and essentially communal socio-political norms and relations, worldview and consciousness, behavioral pattern, to spread on all the levels of societal complexity including, though in modified or sometimes even corrupted forms, sociologically supra- and non-communal. (The modern African city as a holistic phenomenon and in many concrete manifestations of its social life is a striking example of this). Thus, the nature and fundamental importance of the principle of communality follows from, but is by no means reduced to, the fact that the local community has always – from the earliest days of history to the present – remained the basic socio-economic institution and nucleus of political organization in Africa. The principle of communality is also irreducible to those of kinship (as in the most typical African community kin ties are compromised by those of other kinds) and collectivism (actually, one of the reasons for the “African socialism” projects’ failure was that their ideologists tended to ignore the dualistic nature of the community overemphasizing its collectivistic side and underestimating individualistic). As a pivotal socio-cultural foundation, the principle of communality has a direct impact on all subsystems of the African society at all the levels of its being throughout its whole history. Precisely this is what can explain to a large extent the originality of African civilization, as notwithstanding the immense changes, including those of the colonial and postcolonial eras, today the cultures of Africa still preserve their identity, what means that beyond the visible novelties, they are still based on the fundamentals characteristic of them since olden times. Hence, in the embodiment of the principle of communality it can make sense to seek the roots of specificity of the socio-political processes in postcolonial Africa, including the processes of nation- and state-building.