Diversity typically refers to
(i) associational life, which is interposed between the state and the individual, such as that reflected in professional associations, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations and other subsidiary associations in state and society;
(ii) interest group and competitive party and electoral politics, with emphasis on multiparty politics; and (iii) political and socio-cultural pluralism, defined by such identity-attributes as age, ethnicity, gender, language, race, region, and religion.
Recent constitutional and political reforms in Africa have tried to move beyond the poor and undemocratic management of diversity that characterised the progressive decline into authoritarian (one-party and military) rule on the continent between the mid-1960s and the 1980s, with disastrous effects.
It gave rise to
(i) troubling questions about citizenship rights, violent and
decimating political conflicts and civil wars;
(ii) threatened peace and stability; and
(iii) stunted development in various African countries. In the case of Sierra Leone, the assault on diversity from 1996 was a major precipitating cause of the country’s civil war. It is for this reason that the challenge of the democratic management of diversity remains a major issue in post-conflict Sierra Leone.