Thought and Practice

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Kinship Structures and Social Justice in Sub-Saharan Africa

A A Oludare


A major obstacle to the development of sustainable democratic systems of government in contemporary sub-Saharan African states is the difficulty in articulating an adequate conception of social justice to serve as a guiding principle in these polities. This difficulty is a consequence of the ethnically heterogeneous character of most of these states. This article argues that while in traditional sub-Saharan African communities social justice is largely based on kinship relations, that traditional framework is too narrow to serve as the basis for the articulation of this important notion in these ethnically pluralistic polities. Consequently, even though kinship relations ought to be retained in the articulation of social justice in these states, the conception of kinship needs to be broadened to transcend simple familial or ancestral relations.


Key Words

Sub-Saharan Africa, kinship relations, ancestors, social justice, democracy, globalisation, colonialism

AJOL African Journals Online