Before beginning this course the only exposure I had ever had to the idea of kingship was of that seen in the history of Europe. For many years, and still today in Europe, some countries honored the idea of the head of state being a king with dominate power of his subjects. Many times this king was divinely ordained, and being nothing more than a dictator, held policies that hurt the citizens of those countries, the environment, and with their needless invasions of other countries in their sometimes ruthless pursuit of power and wealth, the citizens of other countries.
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When I thought of kings and kingship, the idea seemed to me something that should not exist in the modern world. Many of the countries that used to have kings are now democracies. This seems to me to be the best form of government and the natural evolution of human politics from a less ideal for of governing (kingship) to a more ideal form (democracy). But lately I’ve began to wonder.
More and more often it seems that, at least in our country, the people whose vote counts the most are the people with the most money. Our “democracy” in the United States has been gradually moving away from representing the people of the country and more to representing the CEO’s and the corporations. And although kingships can devolve into some of the same sort, they can also be representative of the people and are in many ways different from the kingdoms of old Europe.
The ideas I had of kingship in Africa were tainted with ignorance. I now know that kingship is a delicate social structure in which there is great care that goes into selecting a king. In many instances there are elder councils and other selection committees which prevent dominate rule by one family. Africa’s history is at least as rich as European history. It is a shame that people are still so ignorant about it.See More on Democracy, Europe