Early Modernization TheoryThe systematic study of political modernization in Africa can be correlated to thedemise of colonialism after the second world war. Non-African events such as theUnited Nations charter statement on the issue of self-determination, combined with theagitation of indigenous Africans, forced the colonial powers into begrudgingly acceptingthe demands for independence.
As a result, both African leaders and western policy-makers needed models for the newly independent governments. Political modernizationcame forward to fill this need.Initially, a majority of the modernization literature was embroiled with themultiple issues of the cold war. There was grave concern that the new African stateswould adopt communism and become a part of the Eastern bloc. Therefore, westernscholars focused on creating institutions that would be compatible with western ideasthan with indigenous systems and structures.The net result was that modernization theory involved transplanting idealizedtheories into Africa, emphasizing democracy and introducing non-traditional values.These scholars assumed that African values would fall to the wayside in the face of superior European values. The result in this was that these scholars completely ignoredindigenous complexities. Indeed on the few occasions that it was discussed, they viewedthe indigenous element as an impediment and refused to incorporate traditional systemsinto their models. Such a failure not only perpetuated colonial racism, but it alsoforeshadowed the continued perception that Africans lacked originality. The westernassumptions also suggested that Africans best displayed an imitative genius and couldtherefore assimilate what the west would bequeath to them.
See United Nations, Purpose and Principles, Chapter I, Article I, 2, San Francisco, California, June 26,1945.