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Smuts Memorial Fund Lecture 2017

The Whigs and Jacobins of Africa: Traditional Authorities across Francophone and Anglophone Sub- Saharan Africa and the Different Conceptions of Political Order - Jan Erk, Jan C. Smuts Visiting Fellow 2016-17, Centre of African Studies and Clare Hall
When May 24, 2017
from 05:00 PM to 06:30 PM
Where Queens' College, Fitzpatrick Hall, Cambridge
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The 1990s were marked by large-scale democratic reforms throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, which – amongst other things – ended up blowing new life into the  mostly  dormant  traditional  authorities. Francophone and  Anglophone  Africa display marked  differences  concerning  the  recognition and constitutionalisation of traditional authorities however.  Notwithstanding   the uniqueness of individual cases, in  broad brushstrokes, this dichotomy reflects the foundational differences in legal cultures  cemented  in  earlier times.  The British colonial  practice  of  ‘indirect rule’  had historically lead  to the  recognition,  co-optation, and sometimes distortion, of the exiting traditional authorities at the time of British arrival. France on the other hand had exercised direct rule, which led to  the  subsequent  weakening,  and sometimes disappearance, of traditional authorities. This dichotomy was underscored  by  two  respective legal traditions: the common-law tradition more open to precedent, custom, and continuity; and the more statist/reformist inclined civil law tradition. In many ways, these are two competing conceptions of political order: evolutionary and pragmatic governance seeking piecemeal long- term returns versus idealist, activist governance seeking  large-scale  change;  the Whigs and Jacobins in other words. The lecture will seek to connect the current state of affairs with these two competing conceptions of political order