History teaches us clearly that the battle against colonialism does not run straight away along the lines of nationalism. For a very long time the native devotes his energies to ending certain definite abuses: forced labor, corporal punishment, inequality of salaries, and limitation of political rights. This fight for democracy against the oppression of mankind will slowly leave the confusion of neoliberal universalism to emerge, sometimes laboriously, as a claim to nationhood. It so happens that the unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps (Fanon 1963, 148).
Frantz Fanon's worries when he first published his book Les damnés de la terre in 1961 have been realized in Africa with a vengeance. Soon after political independence was won, most African countries degenerated into one-party authoritarianism and/or dictatorships and military rule. In many instances, one-party rule was justified or rationalized on the basis of the need for national unity or the need to devote national energies to economic development. In other instances, one party rule was said to reflect African traditional forms of democracy of consensus building, unlike western type democracy which encouraged opposition for its own sake, as reflected in the sharp divisions, class and otherwise, under capitalism (Nabudere 1989, 1-24). In some cases, one-party rule had been achieved due to the weakness of opposition parties at independence, and the ruling parties took advantage of their predominance either to legislate opposition parties out of existence, or simply make life difficult for the opposition.