Last week I attended a lecture by Dr. Megan Hersey at Whitworth University. Dr. Hersey’s topic was “Democracy Challenges and Change in Contemporary Africa.” I enjoyed the presentation. I was particularly interested in a map that showed the African countries according to their democracy development. African countries fall on a continuum from authoritarian governments to mature democracies. Some democratic countries are fragile, others are stronger. Dr. Hersey said that economic development and democratic development go hand in hand. In other words, the countries that more fully embrace democracy are the countries that have the strongest economies.
Dr. Hersey defined democracy using three points:
- participation – Who has a say? In a democracy everyone has the opportunity to be heard.
- competition – Is there a choice? In a democracy there are multiple parties and candidates.
- freedom – Who is in control? In a democracy there are personal freedoms, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and other opportunities to make choices.
Dr. Hersey’s overall assessment is that Africa is generally moving in a positive direction. She was particularly upbeat regarding the positive economic growth many African countries have experienced during the past several years.
Dr. Hersey’s assessment corroborates with many articles I have read about Africa during the past several months. It appears that Africa is on the rise. What an exciting time to be available to help train their leaders in biblical character-based principles and practices.