Claude Ake On Depsychologising Socio-Economic Problems of Africa And Its Public Services

Tokunbo Aderemi Ayoola, Shehu Tijjani Yusuf


Modern public services in Africa were the creation of European colonialism. They were established at first to assist in the exploitation of the continent’s resources. From this small beginning they later expanded to cover many services catering for the lives of African colonial people. When African nationalists took over governance and the public services, they decided to use them to engineer great political, economic, and social development. At first, the public services recorded some amazing successes, but as a result of many factors, not least poor leadership Africa’s public services since the 1960s have been bedeviled by many problems, including inability to lift many Africans from abject poverty. These problems have led some scholars, commentators and outsiders to hastily conclude that these are indeed congenital and inherent failures of Africans. This is “psychologising” the problems of Africa in its people.

Relying on Claude Ake’s theoretical formulation on the state in Africa, this essay debunks this redundant thinking of uninformed analysts by locating the real socio-economic problems of Africa and its public services in the inherited colonial state, which lacks autonomy and is thus the booty of dominant political faction in power at a given time. The resultant battle by other factions with the dominant class in what is truly an intra class conflict leads to over-politicization of the public services. This latter process according to Ake is indeed the de-psychologising of Africa’s problem. Ake does not provide any direct and specific solution to the problems identified; one of the key omissions made by Ake, especially with regards to Africa’s public bureaucracies. As a solution to the conundrum, the state in Africa and its public services have found themselves the essay concludes that the mixed economy system as in the Scandinavian countries should serve as a model for Africa. This will help to reduce if not eradicate poverty and assist in the rebuild of Africa’s public services.

Key words: Ake, state, psychologising, depsychologising, public service.

DOI: 10.7176/JAAS/81-06

Publication date: April 30th 2023

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