African Law(s)

Comparative Insights on the African Lawscape


This book takes a comparative law perspective and proposes a new approach for researching law in Africa. Western theoretical perspectives in comparative law are too Eurocentric to fully catch the peculiarities and characteristics of the African “lawscape”—in short, they are inadequate for studying African law. In this book, Professor Salvatore Mancuso considers the law in Africa from a different perspective. Deeply rooted in the culture of the African people, this approach considers African legal culture with the same legitimacy as Western legal culture, setting a precedent for future policy-making decisions relating to legislative development in Africa.

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Salvatore Mancuso, Ph.D. (2003), is Professor of Comparative Law and Legal Anthropology at the University of Palermo, Italy. He has published monographs and many articles on African and comparative law. He is also Honorary Professor of African law at Xiangtan University, China and Visiting Professor at Somali National University, Somalia.

Preface and Acknowledgments

List of Figure

Table of Cases

1Africa and Comparative Law
 1 Introductory Remarks
 1.1 Starting from the Beginning: What Is Law?

 1.2 Then, What Is African Law?

 1.3 The Geographic Boundaries

 2 African Law in (and Out of) Comparative Law Literature
 2.1 African Law and Comparative Law Studies

 2.2 African Law as an Autonomous Legal Family/Tradition?

 3 Comparing in Africa
 3.1 Legal Transplants and the African Context

 3.2 Language and Law in Africa

 3.3 Comparing in the African Context

2Methodological Aspects
 1 Preliminary Considerations

 2 The Contextual Approach

 3 The Components of the African Legal Context
 3.1 The Informal Normative Orders (or Droits Originellement Africains)
 3.1.1 Why Informal and Not Customary?

 3.1.2 Characteristics of African Informal Law(s)

 3.1.3 The Distinction between Official and Living “Customary” Law: a Non-sense

 3.1.4 Informal Law(s) after Colonization

 3.2 Religious Laws
 3.2.1 The African Vision on Religion

 3.2.2 Islamic Law

 3.2.3 The Law Inherent to the Christian Religion

 3.2.4 Jewish Law

 3.2.5 Hindu Law

 3.3 The Import of the European Pattern
 3.3.1 The Process of Colonization

 3.3.2 The Political and Legal Administration of the Colonies

 3.3.3 The Impact of Western Laws on African Traditional Laws

 3.4 Post-Independence Law

 3.5 Law in Africa Further to the Structural Adjustments

 3.6 Urban Informal Law(s)

 3.7 Law in Africa in the 21st Century

 3.8 A First Verification of the Method: the Present African Lawscape

3Characteristic Features of Law in Africa
 1 Approaching Legal Pluralism

 2 The African Vision of Law
 2.1 The Rule

 2.2 The Individual and the Community

 2.3 The Role of Supernatural in the African Legal Culture

 2.4 The Concept of Time and Its Consequences on Law

 3 Democracy, Power and Governance

 4 Rule of Law (with African Characteristics)

4Regulating the African Societies
 1 Introductive Remarks

 2 Personal Status

 3 Family Relations

 4 Inheritance

 5 Land Tenure

 6 Patrimonial Relations
 6.1 Property

 6.2 Contracts

 6.3 Securities

 6.4 Partnerships

 7 Unlawful Acts and Sanctions
 7.1 Defamation

 7.2 Unlawful Acts Related to Family Life
 7.2.1 Adultery

 7.2.2 Seduction and Abduction

 7.2.3 Breach of Betrothal

 7.3 Theft

 7.4 Trespass

 7.5 Damage to Property

 7.6 Homicide

 7.7 Assault

 8 Conflict Resolution
 8.1 The African Conception of Justice

 8.2 Procedure

 8.3 Judgments and Enforcement



All scholars and researchers with an interest of law in Africa, and comparative law scholars may have an interest in having not only a comprehensive book exclusively dedicated to law in Africa, but also a proposal for a new approach in the study and research of law in Africa.
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