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Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

Research Portal

Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape


Curriculum decolonisation and revisionist pedagogy of African customary law

Publication title information

Diala, Anthony C (2019). 'Curriculum decolonisation and revisionist pedagogy of African customary law’ . Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal

Further detail

Publication type
Academic journal articles
Fees-related protests in South African universities have pushed the decolonisation of the law curriculum to the front burner of academic discourse. As part of the curriculum, African customary law was marginalised in the courts, distorted by policy makers, and largely labelled as unfriendly to women and younger male children in issues of marriage, property, and succession. However, this normative system is shaped by the manner in which people adapt norms with agrarian origins to the socio-economic changes caused by colonial rule. In this historical context, scholars focus more on conflict of laws than on people's adaptation of indigenous norms to socioeconomic changes. So, in what ways should universities handle the pedagogy of African customary law? This article argues that colonialism endowed Africans with a new socio-legal identity, which questions the mainstream conceptualisation of customary law into "official" and "living" versions. Accordingly, the law curriculum should reflect this new identity and acknowledge the self-sustaining legacy of colonialism as a reality check on decolonisation. As the article suggests, re-conceptualising African customary law offers a framework for legal integration, especially in South Africa.
About the author/s

Anthony C Diala

Anthony Chima Diala is Associate Professor at the Department of Private Law at UWC. An advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, he has published on customary law, human rights, and constitutionalism. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2582-0139

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