The Future of the Multi-Ethnic African State: On the Perspective of Ifeanyi A. Menkiti

Hemispheres 25:73-94 (2010)
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In this article, I present and critically analyze the main ideas of the Nigerian thinker, Ifeanyi A. Menkiti, on the future of the multi-ethnic state in Africa. Menkiti appears to consider that the basic condition for the successful coexistence of the various groups occupying the states of Africa is for relations between them to rest on just principles. Justice should involve the fair and equitable division amongst peoples of the burdens and benefits of living in a common state. To realize this ideal, he proposes the creation in Africa of morally neutral, managerial states. He bases his plan in part on the ideas of John Rawls. Close analysis of Menkiti’s views shows that his vision of the minimalist state is only a temporary solution, which is to lead to the peaceful dismemberment of the current post-colonial model of multi-ethnic states functioning within the old colonial borders. The basic value of Menkiti’s thought rests in his reversal of the usual perspective on African states, as he considers that maintaining territorial integrity or achieving unity should no longer be considered a paramount necessity. Published in "Hemispheres", 2010, No. 25.
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