Before rights and responsibilities: an African ethos of citizenship

Oche Onazi

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    The concept of citizenship lies at the heart of many problems in contemporary Africa. The dichotomy between indigenes and settlers, the focus of this chapter, is one such difficulty. It has provoked some of the most violent conflicts in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and very recently, Cote d’Ivoire. The chapter demonstrates how African jurisprudence – particularly with its emphasis on human ontology – can contribute to a concept of citizenship capable of responding to this and other problems. The chapter uses the indigene and settler dichotomy as a methodological device to question what citizenship means today, and also, whether it yields to a proper understanding of the kind of moral values fundamental to societal co-existence. Going much further than this, the chapter argues that situating citizenship in an African jurisprudential context can encourage the most fundamental moral values central to what it means to live an ethical life as a citizen. The implication is that, when African jurisprudence is applied to citizenship, it does not place citizens at a threshold above aliens, foreigner’s, legal or illegal immigrants. African jurisprudence specifically shows that our moral obligations to each other precede, as the title of the chapter suggests, citizenship rights and responsibilities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAfrican legal theory and contemporary problems
    Subtitle of host publicationcritical essays
    EditorsOche Onazi
    Place of PublicationNetherlands
    PublisherSpringer Netherlands
    Number of pages20
    ISBN (Electronic)9789400775374
    ISBN (Print)9789400775367
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Publication series

    NameIus Gentium: comparative perspectives on law and justice


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