History and Evolution of Land Tenure and Administration in West Africa
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This paper focuses on the evolution of land tenure in Anglophone West Africa, although it also tries to encompass broader questions of access to natural resources. It considers first of all tenure relations as the British found them in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia at the beginning of the 20th century. It notes the challenge of applying the word 'ownership' to African tenure and questions the assumption that there must be a 'rule book' everywhere governing these relations. It recognizes four conceptual alternatives which seem to emerge from the early colonial literature: (1) a universal model of African land tenure; (2) a mosaic of customary tenure systems; (3) a palimpsest or hierarchy of tenure relations; (4) dynamic flux.