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Traditional Authorities in African Cities: Setting the Scene


Year published: 2021
Categories: Articles

Author / Authors:

  • Ntombini Marrengane
  • Lindsay Sawyer
  • Daniel Tevera


African Studies, 80:2, 125-133, DOI: 10.1080/00020184.2021.1940098


This special issue on the role of traditional authorities in African cities highlights critical debates about governance and urban development on a fast-urbanising continent. The six articles in this issue focus on the following: (1) the roles of traditional authorities as custodians of the values of society; (2) the roles of traditional leaders as moral authorities; (3) the modern chieftaincy as an invention of the colonial state; (4) the ‘unrelenting co-optation and appropriation’ of traditional governance structures by the state; and (5) the stretching of pre-colonial narratives to justify the legitimacy of traditional leadership and its control of community resources. The special issue features contributions from Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana and Eswatini, providing a rare comparison between cases from Southern and West Africa.


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