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Part IV Traditional Institutions and Decentralisation, 18 Constitutionalisation of Traditional Authorities and the Decentralisation of Governance: Anglophone and Francophone Africa Compared

Jan Erk

From: Decentralisation and Constitutionalism in Africa

Edited By: Charles M. Fombad, Nico Steytler

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 23 January 2021

This chapter addresses the recent resurgence of traditional authorities in sub-Saharan Africa. It focuses on two groups of African countries: those that had British colonial rule and those that were administered by France. The British colonial practice of ‘indirect rule’ led to the recognition and co-option of traditional authorities in existence at the time of British arrival; France, on the other hand, imposed direct rule in its territories. While most post-colonial regimes in Africa did not undo the institutions and legal systems put in place during colonial rule, former British colonies nevertheless display more political continuity from the pre-colonial to colonial and post-colonial eras. In Francophone Africa, by contrast, the combination of direct rule from France and a continental civil law tradition distorted, weakened, and even dismantled traditional authorities.

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