Before Rights and Responsibilities: An African ethos of Citizenship

Oche Onazi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

11 Downloads (Pure)


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 PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9789400775374
ISBN (Print)9789400775367
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameIus Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice
ISSN (Electronic)1534-6781


Dive into the research topics of 'Before Rights and Responsibilities: An African ethos of Citizenship'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this