Political life in Africa was described 25 years ago as ‘an almost institutionless arena with conflict and disorder as its most prominent features’. However, the wave of national conferences in Africa in the current decade would have been inconceivable without the various institutions and beliefs that have persisted despite the prevalence of dictatorship. These ‘fragments of democracy’ have been manifest in trade union movements, voluntary associations, and the nascent political parties that have organised popular protests against authoritarian régimes during the past few years.
* Postgraduate Student, Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles. This study has been made possible by travel grants from the Center for International Business Education and Research at the Anderson Graduate School of Management, U.C.L.A., and by a Fulbright West Africa Research Association fellowship.