1st Edition

African Kingships in Perspective Political Change and Modernization in Monarchical Settings

Edited By René Lemarchand Copyright 1977
    342 Pages
    by Routledge

    First published in 1977, African Kingships in Perspective deals comparatively and analytically with the dynamics of change in monarchical settings. It examines the variant responses of African kingships to the challenge of modernity and political centralisation, and to assess their successes and failures in the face of rapid social change. The analysis is based on eight case studies: Ethiopia, Buganda, Ankole, Rwanda, Burundi, Ijebu Ode, Swaziland and Lesotho – covering a wide range of historical experiences and social settings. By looking at the relative staying power and adaptability of these traditional polities, the editor reveals the structural regularities behind variations of culture, leadership, and historical experience.

    The case studies included in this book also demonstrate the vital importance of monarchical symbols, leadership patterns, and strategic maneuverings for an understanding of the durability and viability of African kingships. It further shows how the actions of individual monarchs may have contributed to the survival or demise of their respective kingdoms, taking into account the obstacles arising from structural and environmental constraints. The institution of kingship thus emerges as a significant variable in the analysis of political change in contemporary Africa. This book stands as an important contribution to the political anthropology of contemporary Black Africa.

    Introduction: In Search of Political Kingdom
    René Lemarchand

    Part 1—A Theocratic Kingship: Ethiopia

    1. Ethiopia
    Christopher Clapham

    Part 2—Stratified Kingships: Rwanda and Burundi

    2. Rwanda
    René Lemarchand

    3. Burndi
    René Lemarchand

    Part 3—Ethnic Kingships: Swaziland and Lesotho

    4. The Ngwenyama of Swaziland: The Dynamics of Political Adaptation
    Christian P. Potholm

    5. The Basotho Monarchy
    Richard F. Weisfelder

    Part 4—Incorporated Kingships: Buganda, Ankole and Ijebu

    6. Buganda
    M. Crawford Young

    7. Ankole
    Martin R. Doornbos

    8. Ijebu
    Peter C. Llyod

    Conclusion—Monarchical Responses to Social Change: A Spectrum of Strategies
    René Lemarchand


    René Lemarchand is Emeritus Professor of political science at the University of Florida, USA. He is known for his research on ethnic conflict and genocide in African nations. His published works include Remembering Genocides in Central Africa (2021).

    Review of the first publication:

    ‘This book seeks to answer an important, if largely retrospective, question about political change in Africa.”
    American Political Science Review, Volume 72, Issue 4, pp. 1475­–1476