This chapter examines customary property rights and the role of customary leaders in enforcing those property rights from an institutionalist perspective. The issue of societal benefit is at the forefront of this chapter, which proceeds in three parts. Subchapter 13.2 discusses the pervasiveness of customary tenure and customary authority structures throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and their genesis in the colonial era. Subchapter 13.3 notes the lack of consistency between statutory law and customary law, which leads to a pluralistic legal setting. This part also identifies the winners and losers within customary legal systems. Subchapter 13.4 discusses how we can evaluate customary land tenure patterns and customary authority. The chapter ends by suggesting ways in which customary property rights and customary authority might persevere with a positive benefit to the society.

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Copyright © 2011 Cambridge University Press. This chapter first appeared in The Future of African Customary Law.

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