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Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

Research Portal

Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape


Inaugural Symposium - 22 October 2021

Published: 14 October 2021

The Centre for Legal Integration in Africa is pleased to announce its inaugural symposium titled “The future of legal orders in Africa,” which will hold on Friday, 22 October 2021 from 14:45 – 19:00 SAST; 12:45-17:00 GMT; 08:45-13:00 EST. It will commence with a keynote address by Professor Brian Tamanaha, the John S. Lehmann Chair at Washington University in St. Louis, USA.

Please click this URL to register for the meeting: https://uwc.zoom.us/j/99640680999

Purpose of the symposium
In sub-Saharan Africa, statutory laws, religious laws, and customary laws co-exist. In response to rapid socio-economic changes emerging from the fourth industrial revolution, African countries are undertaking law reforms to harmonise their indigenous laws with their constitutional bills of rights. These reforms stoke controversy over the status of African customary laws in the formal legal system. While traditionalists use cultural relativism to defend customary laws, change agents use constitutional human rights to promote law reform. On their part, judges usually invalidate traditional practices that they consider offensive, and legislators mould customs into universalist images of the rights to dignity, equality, and non-discrimination. Against the background of global legal history, this symposium explores legislative and judicial attitudes to indigenous African laws, and how these attitudes portray the future of legal orders in Africa.

For the list of speakers and their topics, please see below, as well as the attached programme.


14:45 – 14:50: Housekeeping (5 minutes)

14:50 – 14:59: Opening/welcome remarks by Professor Vivienne Lawack, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, University of the Western Cape, South Africa (10 minutes)

Part one: Plenary session [Chair: Professor F. Du Toit, UWC]15:00 – 15:30: Keynote address by Brian Tamanaha, John S. Lehmann University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, USA (30 minutes)

15:30 – 15:59 Question and answer (29 minutes)


Part two: Expert discussion – plenary [Chair: Professor N. Moosa, UWC]
16:00 – 16:20 Panel on traditional leadership
Panellists: Janine Ubink (Leiden University); Aninka Claassens (University of Cape Town)

16:20 – 16:40 Panel on inheritance and identity
Panellists: Chuma Himonga (University of Zambia); Enyinna Nwauche (University of Forte Hare)

16:40 – 17:00 Panel on gender and marriage reforms
Elsje Bonthuys (University of the Witwatersrand) and Sindiso Mnisi Weeks (University of Massachusetts)

Part three [Parallel sessions in Zoom breakout rooms]
17:00 – 18:50 Constitutionalism and Law Reforms [Chair: Dr N. Sibanda, UWC]a) Professor Thuli Madonsela (Law Faculty Trust Chair in Social Justice, University of Stellenbosch) — ‘Transforming indigenous law beyond assimilation: Social justice issues in the harmonisation of indigenous law with the Constitution.’
b) Professor Bonolo Dinokopila (University of Botswana) ‘Contemporary challenges to the application of customary law in Botswana.’
c) Dr Phillip Odiase (Adekunle Ajasin University, Nigeria) — ‘Sustaining the organic fluidity of customary law arbitration vis-à-vis the rigidity of judicial precedent in Nigeria.’
d) Mr Joseph Garske (Chairperson, The Global Conversation) — ‘Global, Territorial, and Tribal: Constitutional challenges in the twenty-first century.’
e) Mr Rodrigo Ferreira (Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso - UFMT) — ‘Community protocols as a self-determination strategy: Indigenous experiences of legal pluralism in the global South – The cases of Brazil and South Africa.’

17:00 – 18:50 Marriage and Children [Chair: Professor L. Mwambene, UWC]
a) Dr Helen Kruuse (Rhodes University) and Professor Lea Mwambene (University of the Western Cape) — ‘Recognising form through function within the context of integrating the bride requirement in customary marriages.’
b) Professor Boitumelo Mmusinyane (North-West University Potchefstroom Campus) — ‘The customary law of marriage of the Batswana in South Africa in the face of a constitutional transformation.’
c) Professor Adeniyi Olatunbosun and Mr Samson Odetayo (KolaDaisi University, Nigeria) — ‘Problem of recognition of woman-to-woman marriage under the imported laws and African customary laws.’
d) Dr Rita Ozoemena; Fordam Wara (Free State Centre for Human Rights), and Khupi Ramarumo (Johannesburg Society of Advocates) — ‘Consequences of proposed registration and spousal consent requirements on customary marriages in South Africa.’
e) Ms Moyahabo Thoka (Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria) — ‘Customary law in practice from a children's rights perspective.’ 17:00 – 18:50 Succession and Inheritance [Dr A. Booley, UWC]
a) Dr Fatima Osman (University of Cape Town) — ‘The communal nature of the customary law of succession.’
b) Adv. Kagiso A. Maphalle (University of Cape Town) — ‘The Modjadji Queenship: Tensions in living vs statutory customary law in succession to traditional leadership in Limpopo, South Africa.’
c) Ms. Ugochi Eleanya (University of Lagos and University of the Western Cape) — ‘An analysis of the pervasive impact of colonialism on customary laws of inheritance in Nigeria.’
d) Mr. Sipho Nkosi (University of Johannesburg) — ‘African law of succession and traditional leadership through the prism of the Zulu Royal House.’
e) Ms Lauretta Morudu (Rhodes University) — ‘Romancing customary law: The disparity between the legislative and judicial interpretation of customary practices in South Africa.’

17:00 – 18:45 Comparative Law and Legal Theory [Chair: Prof. S. Viljoen]
a) Professor Salvatore Mancuso (University of Palermo) ‘Law and glocalization: An African perspective.’
b) Dr Jennifer Mike (American University of Nigeria) — ‘Punishing passion: A reflection of the offense of adultery within the context of human rights, culture and religion.’
c) Dr Olaniyi Olayinka (Redeemer’s University, Nigeria) ‘Incorporating indigenous legal tradition towards better access to justice: The case of South Africa and Nigeria.’
d) Mr Reshard Kolabhai (North-West University Potchefstroom Campus) — ‘Constituting capitalism, coercing custom: The articulation(s) of “Western” and “customary” law in South African political-economy.’
e) Mr Lesala Mofokeng (University of KwaZulu-Natal) — ‘The never-ending legacy of colonial ‘unions’, ‘repugnant customs’ and ‘houses’ of apartheid.’
f) Ms Davinia Gómez-Sánchez (Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao) — ‘A is for apple, M for mongongo: An alter-native conceptualisation of the right to property from an indigenous peoples’ perspective.’

Closing [Plenary session]
18:45-18:55 Vote of thanks by CLIA Director, Prof. Anthony Diala