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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Customary law grows out of the social practices which a given jural community has come to accept as obligatory. It is a pervasive normative order, providing the regulatory framework for spheres of human activity as diverse as the family, the neighbourhood, the business of merchant banking, or international diplomacy. This article looks at the indigenous customary laws of sub-Saharan Africa. It deals with the preservation of the law in an oral tradition and how it has been influenced by certain social, economic, and political structures. This focus requires, in turn, that particular attention be paid to factors influencing the production of texts on customary law. Because textual information on the subject is limited, often outdated, and somewhat subjective, readers must be made aware of how changes in the theories of jurisprudence and anthropology have affected ideas and preconceptions.

Keywords: Africa, customary law, international diplomacy, legal anthropology, legal pluralism

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