Features of Communalism System of Government

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Features of Communalism Form of Government


Communalism is a social, political and economic arrangement in which landed property and other natural resources are collectively owned, managed and co-operatively harnessed by the community for the common good of everybody.

Participation in Community development is open to everybody. In most communal societies, people live in group as families sharing resources and responsibilities together for the benefits of everybody. Oneness and love for one another existwithin the community.

One of the founding fathers of communalism, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania maintained that communalism is like returning to traditional political practices and the rejection of the unsuitable aspects of imported alien culture.

Julius Nyerere argued further, that, everybody was part of the government and no need for political parties, which create divisions in the lives of the citizens. Opportunity is therefore created for individuals to participate at any level of community development.

Features of a Communalism State

The main features of communalism may be summarised as follows:

  • Communalism was the dominant political system in Africa before the 15th century.
  • Under communalism, one’s position in the society was defined in terms of blood relations (family and kinship). This is unlike the situation in a modern society where progress depends largely on ability of merit.
  • Man was his brother’s keeper in a communal society. Perhaps, man had to adopt this philosophy of life in order to survive in the very hostile and harsh-environment of the time.
  • The communal society was mainly an agrarian society.
  • Goods and service were jointly produced and they were distributed on equal basis.
  • The goods and services produced were normally sufficient for the need of the society.
  • There was joint ownership of property.
  • Communal projects such as markets, and roads were equally executed by all adult citizens.
  • Religion was very important in the life of the people and there was a near blind submission to religion and customs.
  • As there was little or no exploitation of man by man, the need for the state did not arise.
  • Decisions affecting the whole community were ordinarily taken together at simple meetings presided over by the elders. Thus, democracy, as government of the people by the people and for the people, had meaning in a communal society.
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