Constitution Programme 28 – 29 October 2010
Constitutions and the Rule of Law in Africa since Independence:
an African Dialogue
28 – 29 October 2010
Old Mess Hall, Old Fort
The issue of constitutions in Africa as the cornerstone of independent and democratic societies is not new: in the 1960s, the era of the Independences in both anglophone and francophone Africa, just like that of the liberation struggles in Southern Africa in the 1970s and the 1980s, gave way to reflections and processes on constitution-building.
In the 1960s, debates focused mainly around the writing of the constitution. A constitution was needed to herald the birth of a new state. It was supposed to describe the future state of the nation and was not supported by constitutionalist movements.
The constitutional text was supposed to be self-sufficient and little interest was paid to the support it received from political elites or the people. In general, these texts were directly derived from the constitution of the relevant colonial powers (and in francophone Africa, from the French constitution of 1958, see Fauré 1981 in this regard). As a result these texts were fragile, contested and unable to act as safeguards against political rivalries and coups. Little interest was paid to the political aspects of law.
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