Africa’s Triple Heritage, Land Commodification and Women’s Access to Land: Lessons from Cameroon, Kenya and Sierra Leone

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Africa, access to land, Cameroon, commodification, indigenous culture, Kenya, land tenure, neoliberalism, Sierra Leone

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Women have less access to land than men in Africa. Previous analyses have typically identified African indigenous culture as the problem’s exclusive source. With Cameroon, Kenya and Sierra Leone as empirical referents, an alternative explanation is advanced. Here, the problem is characterized as a product of Africa’s triple heritage, comprising three main cultures, viz., African indigenous tradition, European/Christianity and Arabia/Islam. The following is noted as a major impediment to women’s access to, and control of, land: the supplanting of previously collective land tenure systems based on family or clan membership by ‘ability-to-pay’ as the principal determinant of access to land.

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Journal of Asian and African Studies, v. 52, issue 6, p. 760-779