The Awka Civil War (1902–1904) and the Legal Basis for Its Resolution

in Matatu
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Most Western legal philosophers did not have Africa in mind when institutionalzing the meaning of law; hence, they consider African customary law as obscure and undesirable. This Western notion of the African judicial system is misleading—there was no record of breakdown of law and order in pre-colonial Africa, where only customary laws operated. This essay examines the consequences of the imposition of the Western legal system on Africa using the Awka civil war (1900–1904) as an example. The study reveals that the African traditional legal system was broadly accepted by the people as a means of providing stability, certainty, and social change. It represents the indigenous and authentic law of the people.


Journal for African Culture and Society




Martin C. Okany, Nigerian Commercial Law (Onitsha: Africana First, 2009): 44.


Amanke Okafor, The Awka People (Onitsha: Manila Press, 1992): 24.


Okafor, The Awka People, 12.


Azuka A. Dike, The Resilience of Igbo Culture: A Case Study of Awka Town (Enugu: Fourth Dimension, 1985): 3, 11.


M.C. Okany, Nigerian Commercial Law, 31.


Kwesi Quartey, “Slavery: The Case for Reparation (2),” New African 470 (February 2008): 53.


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