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Editorial: Rethinking the "Philosopher-King"

Akin Adesokan


This essay attempts a summary of the concept and practice of "philosopher-king" among a small crop of African political leaders in the twentieth century. It argues that the idea, borrowed from the Greek philosopher Plato, was crucial in the consolidation of the postcolonial state as "national-masculinist," that is, the gendered character of nationalism and its role in the acquisition and actual exercise of power. Although African political leadership is still predominantly male, and personality continues to control the political process, there has been a noticeable fading of the figure of the leader as a philosopher-king since the last two decades of the 20th century. As introduction to the articles that actually discuss the phenomenon, this essay highlights each contributor’s points in the conclusion.


Philosopher-King; Africa; Political Leaders, Postcolonial; Personality-Cult; Masculinist

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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