Reconciling Indigenous and Women’s Rights to Land in Sub-Saharan Africa




Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law



In August and September of 2013, Botswana’s courts delivered two different rulings relating to customary property rights. The first ruling denied Botswana’s indigenous Kalahari Bushmen the opportunity to challenge government restrictions on their customary rights to hunt and gather on their ancestral land.1 The Bushmen’s customary law rights to the land have been and continue to be subject to vulnerable intrusion because such rights are not protected by Botswanan law.2 Less than a month later, elsewhere in Botswana, women celebrated a judgment of the Botswana Court of Appeal holding that the Ngakwetse customary law could no longer be used to prevent women from inheriting family property.3 While indigenous groups and advocates lamented the deterioration of customary rights to land, women’s rights advocates cheered the court’s willingness to modify a different set of customary property rights.

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