Colonization and the Myth of the Customary

Sandra F. Joireman

in Where There is No Government

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199782482
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897209 | DOI:
Colonization and the Myth of the Customary

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Customary tenure systems control the allocation of land over 75 percent of the land area of Sub-Saharan Africa, bringing with them customary enforcement regimes. This chapter addresses the genesis of customary tenure regimes in the British system of Indirect Rule and focuses on the persistence of customary land in the contemporary era and its interdependence with customary law and customary leaders. An illustration of the combination of authority and property in Ghana case is discussed and contrasted to Ethiopia, which was not colonized and does not have the same dual legal system or power of customary leaders. Winners and losers from traditional tenure systems are identified with particular attention given to women and migrants. Women and migrants are often caught between constitutional equality guarantees and customary tenure systems that do not recognize them as members with rights to possess and control land. Customary tenure regimes are then compared to state institutions in their provision of social welfare through land administration and adjudication systems.

Keywords: customary law; women; migrants; Indirect Rule; colonization; Ethiopia; Ghana; traditional leaders; land tenure

Chapter.  9432 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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