Cultural Conundrums in African Land Governance: Agribusiness in Sierra Leone
This paper deals with the disjuncture between recognition of the important role of culture in sustainable development discourse embedded in African regional and state policies and legal instruments and the reality of externally driven neoliberal land-based development agendas in African nations. Using postcolonial theoretical notions of identity, subalterns and representation, and the centuries-old African landlord-stranger institution as an important customary land management system operating at the local level, I explore some inherent conflicts between the landlord-stranger institution and state land governance. I interrogate this dilemma in the context of agribusiness development projects and land grabbing claims in Sierra Leone, West Africa highlighting the issue of scale and institutions in land development and land rights debates. I reveal the challenges African countries face in reconciling the inconsistencies between respect for customary institutions inscribed in policy and laws, and economic growth and development within a global capitalist system.
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