Trends in citizenship law and politics in Africa since the colonial era

Authored by: Bronwen Manby

Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies

Print publication date:  June  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415519724
eBook ISBN: 9780203102015
Adobe ISBN: 9781136237966


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Among the most difficult challenges of nation-building tasked to the newly independent African states of the 1960s was the determination of who could claim membership of these polities: the definition of who was a citizen. In theory, the colonial legal regimes had established clear rules to assert the jurisdiction of the European powers over their subjects in Africa, while the transitional provisions of the independence constitutions allocated individuals to one state or another at the date sovereignty was transferred. In practice, there were many ambiguities in these laws, and many challenges to their legitimacy. Yet, although the question of colonial borders was addressed and presumed settled by the1964 decision of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) that these externally imposed lines would be respected 1 , the related question of how to treat the peoples cut in half by those borders, or individuals who had moved within the previous colonial territories, was not resolved (even on paper) in the same way.

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