Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Profiles of Nation-States


By Henry Kyambalesa

In this article, let us consider the different kinds of nation-states identified in the literature as being characteristic of countries in much of the developing world, and in some industrialized nations as a matter of fact. These are:

1. The Patrimonial State: A nation-state in which government leaders treat the state as their own piece of property;

2. The Predatory State: A nation-state in which government officials look upon the citizenry as prey for their rapacious greed;

3. The Shadow State: A nation-state that is generally characterized by informal political networks and a weak national economy;

4. The Collapsed State: A nation-state in which common people are generally left to their own devices while government officials revel in conspicuous, state-financed luxury, and government officials meddle in the disbursement of public welfare assistance to gain political leverage or achieve partisan objectives;

5. The Repressive State: A nation-state where government officials impose sufficient repression to keep their political opponents weak and maintain their own power, while adhering to enough democratic formalities that they might just pass themselves off as democrats;

6. The Criminal State: A nation-state where the government is oblivious to crimes committed by government leaders and the elite, and where government officials and the elite are engaged in criminal activities, such as corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, and/or human trafficking;

7. The Outlandish State: A nation-state where ex-convicts, impostors, conspiracy theorists, tax evaders, and/or election-deniers are either permitted to compete for elective positions or are appointed to positions of authority in the executive, legislative or judicial branches of government;

8. The Deep State: A type of clandestine or shadowy government within the regular government of a country consisting of influential and astute private citizens and elected and unelected government officials who, together, secretly control, manipulate and/or subvert the policies of a country’s national government, the purposes of which may include the pursuit of ideological objectives or corrupt activities;

9. The Shenanigan State: A nation-state where top-level government officials use their offices and positions as means for pursuing their personal goals and interests by engaging in devious, deceptive, mischievous, unscrupulous, and questionable behavior, maneuvers and/or activities;

10. The Cantankerous State: A nation-state governed by a bully-like executive president or prime minister surrounded by cliques of highly partisan lawmakers, bureaucrats and/or ordinary citizens who are inclined to circumvent national laws, constitutional provisions and the national interest in their support and protection of the president’s or prime minister’s parochial and egoistic agenda;

11. The Docile Nation-State: A nation-state where citizens are, by and large, gullible and, as such, are easily duped and hoodwinked by overtly despotic politicians seeking elective positions in government to garner the support of such citizens; and

12. The Propitious Nation-State: A nation-state governed by a clique or ensemble of diligent government officials and which has the following attributes tendered by Kingsley Y. Amoako: the state as a political order, the state as a system of laws, the state as the embodiment of the nation, and the state as the property of the people.

So, which one(s) of the foregoing profiles or characterizations of nation-states fit(s) your country? Zambia, I believe can be said to be a “propitious nation-state.”


Excerpted and adapted from:

Amoako, Kingsley Y., “Challenges to Governance and Participatory De­velopment in Africa: Address to the International Conference on Gover­nance for Sustainable Amoako Growth and Equity,”, New York, July 28, 1997.

“Amoako’s Africa Diary: Why Good Governance Is Vital,”, February 2004.

“Governance for a Progressing Africa: Opening State­ment at the Second Africa Governance Forum,”, Accra, Ghana, June 25, 1998.

Perspectives on Africa’s Development: Selected Speeches (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Economic Commission for Africa, 2000).

Kyambalesa, Henry, “The 27th Ordinary Summit of SADC,” a paper prepared as a Press Release for Heads of State and Government, First Ladies, Ministers, the Executive Secretary, the Deputy Executive Secretary, the Chief Director, Heads of Delegations, and Delegates who attended the 27th Ordinary Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Lusaka, Zambia between August 10 and 18, 2007.

“Global Issues and Challenges,” Manuscript (2023), pp. 129 – 131.


  1. All countries that refuse to legalise homosexuality are ignorant and backward. You cannot stop love. My boyfriend and I have booked plane tickets to a country in Europe where we will get married. We shouldn’t have to fly away from our country to commit to each other

  2. All these are useless leaders inflicting misery on its citizens while they loot and live in extreme wealth

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