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Africa's Constitutionalism Revival : False Start or New Dawn?

Posted: 7 Jul 2008  

H. Kwasi Prempeh

Seton Hall University School of Law

Date Written: July 2007


Several African states have implemented democratic and liberal constitutional reforms during the last two decades. Regime change, the ending of decades of autocratic rule, and the emergence of independent courts are among the important changes produced by these reforms. Yet Africa's constitutional moment has not received the scholarly attention it deserves. With the notable exception of South Africa, African nations continue to lie largely outside the mainstream of contemporary comparative constitutional discourse. This article traces the origins, and examines the scope, content and shortcomings, of the recent constitutionalism revival in Africa. Against the backdrop of the continent's postcolonial history of constitutions without constitutionalism, the article identifies important transformative currents in contemporary Africa that suggest the dawn of a new era; nonetheless, it notes how the persistence of certain constitutive and regressive elements of the ancien régime continues to define and bedevil African constitutional politics.

Suggested Citation

Prempeh, H. Kwasi, Africa's Constitutionalism Revival : False Start or New Dawn? (July 2007). International Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 5, Issue 3, pp. 469-506, 2007. Available at SSRN: or

H. Kwasi Prempeh (Contact Author)

Seton Hall University School of Law ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102
United States

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