Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of Modern African Studies


Geisel School of Medicine


VIEWED from the higher echelons of government in the new nations, the rural leader is an insignificant individual who goes about managing his local affairs and carrying out with varying degrees of success-the policies and hopes of the government. Viewed from below, from the inner recesses of the village, the leader is a man of authority; a man who has used wealth, heredity, or personal magnetism to gain a position of influence. As seen by nation builders and development experts, the rural leader is tacitly pointed to as the key to success. It is he who can mobilize the people. It is through him that more energy will be expended, more muscles used, and more attitudes changed. Conversely, it is the leader's lack of initiative that will entrench the status quo and doom the modernization schemes before they begin.

Original Citation

Miller, Norman. “The Political Survival of Traditional Leadership.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 6.2 (1968): 183–198.