Custom and commonage in Africa rethinking the orthodoxies
The founding argument of this paper is that the commons have been dangerously neglected in agrarian reform and with greatest ill-effect upon the poor. Neglect stems from analytical failures as to the ownership of commons, exacerbated by the dominance of collateralization as the rationale for rights registration and built around individually owned properties. Agrarian reform in the 21st century needs to change focus, making security of the commons a primary objective. For it is these properties-not farms and houses-which are most vulnerable to wrongful appropriation and other involuntary losses. New strategy needs to be founded upon legal acknowledgement for commons as the private and registrable group-owned property of communities and integral support for the community-based customary regimes which deliver and sustain those interests. Side benefits include practical opportunity for overcoming perceived and real conflict between statutory and customary law and provision of a viable route to realising democratic devolution of majority rural land administration. Keywords: Common property, Communal domain, Customary land tenure, community based land tenure administration, Collateralization.
Land Use Policy