By Claude E., Jr. Welch
Publication by means of Welch, Claude E., Jr.
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Extra info for Human Rights and Development in Africa
The frameworks brought by colonialism reflected Western liberal assumptions; "traditional" expectations, such as those about the responsibilities of chiefs or the nature of judicial settlement, were jeopardized. The overall effect was one of weakening the effectiveness of indigenous standards and traditional institutions without firmly implanting new ideas. The impact of Euro- Page 15 pean norms was most marked on the small segment of the populace that benefited from extensive education and opportunities (along with many frustrations) to participate in the political institutions created by the colonial masters.
Consequently, the document adopted at the 1981 Nairobi summit was weaker in crucial respects than the prior Dakar draft. Protection of "liberty" was seemingly subordinated to maintenance of existing systems. It is clear that the laws and practices of individual African states can potentially override the liberties the Banjul Charter is intended to define, promote, and protect. The Problem of Government Power: Conflicts of Liberty and Development That African states are poor and their governments limited in their ability to bring about dramatic change needs little elaboration.
The imposition of external rule introduced new complexities: the European colonizers changed many existing indigenous practices. When collective and individual expression came into conflict, the values of the colonizing powers were presumed to be superior to those indigenous to African societies. European rulers thus had both the inclination and the strength to impose new procedures and values. Perhaps this point becomes clearer through brief reference to certain problem areas. Several matrilineal African societies had practices of inheritance by which property passed from father to nephew, rather than from father to son; colonial legal codes, based on different assumptions, assaulted this belief by stressing inheritance through direct descent.