Curriculum Decolonisation and Revisionist Pedagogy of African Customary Law
37 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 13, 2019
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.
Keywords: academic literacy, student protests, African customary law, pedagogy, curriculum, decolonisation
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