Accepted paper:

The Urban and the Rural: An Analysis of the Ethics and Justice inherent in some Aspects of African Customary Laws


Modestus Onyeaghalaji (University of Lagos)
Friday Ndubuisi (University of Lagos, Nigeria)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines the moral epistemology of the traditional customary law in Africa. The reason is to show its ethical prospects and the knowledge capital as a platform for conversations among the urban elite and traditional African over the politics of African knowledge

Paper long abstract:

Customary law has always been subjected to sever criticism by legal theorists. Based on the criticisms, customary law is called primitive and regarded as a myth of the rural and denied a place of relevance and authority in modern law, since it did not pass through legislative processes before becoming law. Using the philosophical tools of critical analysis, this study examines the foundations of customary law as practiced in the African communities. The aim is to sifter ethical principles or objective standards of justice that can justify human conducts as either good or bad, wrong or right, just or unjust. The objective is to show that customary law is neither spontaneous and arbitrary creations nor authoritarian imposition on any given community. And that as long as such law is not in contravention to the principles of natural law, equity and good conscience it merits to be seen as valid law. It argues that customary law has similar functional roles with ethics, which is the regulation of human conducts to improve societal cohesion and human survival, rewarding and punishing human conducts, enhancing human co-existence as a social group and not as suicide club; customary law is thus ethically justifiable.

panel P177
Idealizing the Rural? Emerging Consciousness to Relocate African Theoria to the Village Square