New Books Network

Ken O. Opalo

Legislative Development in Africa

Politics and Postcolonial Legacies

Cambridge University Press 2019

New Books in African StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 19, 2020 Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia

Legislative Development in Africa: Politics and Postcolonial Legacies (Cambridge University Press, 2019) examines the development of African legislatures from their colonial origins through independence,...

Legislative Development in Africa: Politics and Postcolonial Legacies (Cambridge University Press, 2019) examines the development of African legislatures from their colonial origins through independence, autocracy and the transition to multi-party rule.

In it, Ken Ochieng’ Opalo seeks to explain the different trajectories that African legislatures have taken, why some have become stronger than others, and what are the conditions that allow for democratic institutions to emerge from an autocratic system.

The book combines a broad historical analysis of legislatures throughout Africa with the comparative case studies of Kenya and Zambia. It employs both quantitative and qualitative data to support the argument that despite the limitations imposed by autocratic rulers, the seeds for the development of strong legislatures can be planted during periods of non-democratic rule.

The author presents a dynamic and well-argued model for the study of legislatures in post-colonial states, and argues for a more nuanced and historically-grounded analysis of institutional development in Africa and beyond.


Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia is Associate Professor of History at Montclair State University. She specializes in modern intellectual history of Africa, historiography, World history and Philosophy of History.  She is the co-author of African Histories: New Sources and New Techniques for Studying African Pasts (Pearson, 2011).