Institutional Repository

Re-imagining and re-interpreting African jurisprudence under the South African Constitution

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Mahao, Nqosa Leuta Ndima, Dial Dayana 2014-08-21T11:44:23Z 2014-08-21T11:44:23Z 2013-11
dc.identifier.citation Ndima, Dial Dayana (2013) Re-imagining and re-interpreting African jurisprudence under the South African Constitution, University of South Africa, Pretoria, <> en
dc.description Text in English
dc.description.abstract The substitution of the dominant Western jurisprudence for South Africa’s indigenous normative values during colonial and apartheid times has resulted in a perverted conception of law that presents Western jurisprudence as synonymous with law. In the era of the constitutional recognition of African law where the application of the democratic principle demands that the newly re-enfranchised African communities deserve to be regulated by their own indigenous values, the resilience of this legal culture has become problematic. To reverse this situation legal and constitutional interpreters must rethink and reshape their contributions to the achievement of the post-apartheid version of African law envisioned by the South African Constitution. The application of African law in a free and liberated environment must reflect its own social, political and legal cosmology in which its institutions operate within their own indigenous frame of reference. A study of the anatomy of African jurisprudence as a means of gaining insight into the indigenous worldview which was characterised by the culture of communal living and the ethos of inclusiveness to counter the prevailing hegemony of autonomous individualism, has become urgent. To achieve this such pillars of African jurisprudence as the philosophy of ubuntu must be exhumed in order for African law’s rehabilitation under the Constitution to be undertaken on the basis of its authentic articulation uncontaminated by colonial and apartheid distortions. The task of developing the African law of the 21st century to the extent required by the Constitution is a challenge of enormous proportions which demands an appreciation of the historical and political environment in which African law lost its primacy as the original legal system of South Africa after Roman-Dutch law was imposed on the South Africa population. The revival of African law becomes more urgent when one considers that when Africans lost control of their legal system they had not abdicated sovereignty voluntarily to the newcomers. The validity of the imposition of Western jurisprudence is vitiated by the colonial use of such imperial acts as colonisation, conquest, and annexation as the basis on which the regime of Roman-Dutch law was imposed on South Africa. Ever since, African law has been subordinated and denigrated through colonial and apartheid policies which relegated it, via the repugnancy clause, to a sub-system of Roman-Dutch law with whose standards it was forced to comply. The repugnancy clause left African law a distorted system no longer recognisable to its own constituency. The advent of the new dispensation introduced a constitutional framework for re-capacitating South Africa’s post-apartheid state institutions to recentre African law as envisioned by the Constitution. This framework has become the basis on which legislative and judicial efforts could rehabilitate the indigenous value system in the application of African law. The courts of the new South Africa have striven to find the synergy between indigenous values and the Bill of Rights in order to forge areas of compatibility between African culture and human rights. An analysis of this phase in the development of African law, as evidenced by the present study, reveals successes and failures on the part of the courts in their efforts to rehabilitate African law in line with both its value system and the Bill of Rights. These findings lead to the conclusion that whilst South Africa’s legislative and judicial institutions have not yet achieved the envisioned version of African law, there is an adequate constitutional framework through which they could still do so. This study, therefore, recommends that the above institutions, especially the courts, should adopt a theory of re-indigenisation that would guide them as they proceed from the indigenous version of African law which is the basis on which to apply the Bill of Rights. The application of such a theory would ensure that the distorted ‘official’ version of African law which was imposed by colonial and apartheid state institutions is progressively discredited and isolated from the body of South African law and gives way to the version inspired by the Constitution. en
dc.format.extent 1 online resource (x, 273 leaves)
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject.ddc 342.873068
dc.subject.lcsh Blacks -- Legal status, laws, etc.-- South Africa
dc.subject.lcsh Constitutional law -- South Africa
dc.subject.lcsh Customary law -- South Africa
dc.subject.lcsh Common law -- South Africa
dc.subject.lcsh Civil rights -- South Africa
dc.title Re-imagining and re-interpreting African jurisprudence under the South African Constitution en
dc.type Thesis en
dc.description.department Constitutional, International and Indigenous Law en LL.D.

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record

Search UnisaIR


My Account