Legal Theory in Africa: Between Legal Centralism and Legal Pluralism
Queen Mary Law Journal (2017)
13 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2017 Last revised: 20 Mar 2018
Date Written: July 4, 2017
The African legal universe is difficult to capture through the lens of legal centralism and legal pluralism. While the former excludes the pre-colonial African legal experience, the latter blurs the post-colonial legal dynamics. By employing Joseph Raz’s theory of legal system, this paper argues that there have been centralized legal systems and plural laws in Africa. Customary legal systems, colonial legal systems and constitutional legal systems have existed in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Africa respectively. Plural laws such as diverse customary and religious laws, imperial colonial laws, and statutory laws constituted these legal systems in different time and space. Hence, the quest for African legal theory rests in between legal centralism and legal pluralism.
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