Political Vigilante Groups in Ghana: Violence or Democracy?

Literature on political vigilante groups has centred on the violence and conflict that emanate from their activities. This article by Justice Richard Kwabena Owusu Kyei and Lidewyde Berckmoes approaches political vigilante groups as political actors who engage in political mobilisation and participation and therewith also contribute to nation state building. It explores how such groups participate in Ghana’s democratic governance and asks whether violence is an inevitable characteristic. The article builds on individual in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with political vigilante group members in Kumasi and Tamale in 2019. Findings show that political vigilante “youth” appeared to refer primarily to the social position attributed to non-elite groups in the political field. Political vigilante groups are multi-faceted in their organisational structures, membership, and activities both during electoral campaigns and during governing periods. While some groups revert to violence occasionally, the study concludes that political vigilante groups, in enabling different voices to be heard, are also contributing to democratic governance.
This article has appeared in Africa Spectrum, published by the GIGA Institute for African Affairs as part of SAGE Journals, https://doi.org/10.1177/0002039720970957.
Read the text (open access, Creative Commons CC BY).

Author(s) / editor(s)

Justice Richard Kwabena Owusu Kyei and Lidewyde Berckmoes

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Justice Richard Kwabena Owusu Kyei is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Work in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Lidewyde Berckmoes is Assistant Professor Regional conflict in contemporary Africa at the African Studies Centre Leiden.

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