Before Rights and Responsibilities: An African Ethos of Citizenship

  • Oche OnaziEmail author
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 29)


The concept of citizenship lies at the heart of many problems in contemporary Africa. The dichotomy between indigenes and settlers, the focus of this chapter, is one such difficulty. It has provoked some of the most violent conflicts in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and very recently, Cote d’Ivoire. The chapter demonstrates how African jurisprudence – particularly with its emphasis on human ontology – can contribute to a concept of citizenship capable of responding to this and other problems. The chapter uses the indigene and settler dichotomy as a methodological device to question what citizenship means today, and also, whether it yields to a proper understanding of the kind of moral values fundamental to societal co-existence. Going much further than this, the chapter argues that situating citizenship in an African jurisprudential context can encourage the most fundamental moral values central to what it means to live an ethical life as a citizen. The implication is that, when African jurisprudence is applied to citizenship, it does not place citizens at a threshold above aliens, foreigner’s, legal or illegal immigrants. African jurisprudence specifically shows that our moral obligations to each other precede, as the title of the chapter suggests, citizenship rights and responsibilities.


Political Participation Political Community Moral Virtue Illegal Immigrant Human Interdependence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of DundeeDundeeUK

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