How prevalent, therefore, are democratic values or norms that uphold the rule of law? It is true that most of the ruling class in Africa currently publicly subscribe to democracy and the rule of law, but there is reason to doubt the sincerity of many. It will not be forgotten that most of the nationalist leaders of the 1960s likewise embraced democracy, but proceeded (whether in government or opposition) to show, in most cases, that their commitment was only transitory. And today the actions of leaders often contradict their speeches to the international community. Political culture, however, is not just what the ruling class articulates. Despite all the resources at their disposal to disseminate their ideology and suppress alternatives, the ruling elite has never been able to achieve hegemony (Baker, 2000, pp. 108-10). What Mbembe calls African society's 'historical capacity for indiscipline' ultimately undermines and defeats them all (quoted in Young, 1994, p. 279). This has no doubt been in part due to the absence of adequate political institutions that could integrate ideas and accommodate differences. As Schatzberg observes, a wider perspective is necessary that considers not just the formal and the dominant, but the informal and the dominated:

We must examine the diverse means by which people voice political ideas indirectly. In other words African political thought must be redefined to include the works of novelists, dramatists, poets, musicians, journalists, theologians, philosophers, social scientists, proverbs, fables and oral literature (Schatzberg, 1993; p. 445).