Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Criminology as Lovemaking: An Africa Centered Theory of Justice

Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Criminology as Lovemaking: An Africa Centered Theory of Justice

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper explores the potential role of love in criminal justice and jurisprudence by excavating ancient and modern philosophies of justice to reveal the puzzling evasion of love in attempts by various philosophical traditions to engineer a solution to the wobbly foundations of justice exclusively on the quicksand of rationality, authority and truth but without love. The paper will adopt the format of Platonian philosophical dialogue (originally borrowed from Africa) by staging a breaking of bread between Jens A.B. Jacobsen (JJ), a business man who died seeking universal justice through nature rather than through love and Ifi Amadiume (IA), the Nigerian feminist theorist. As in the dramatic dialogues of Plato, the characters JJ and IA are not the actual persons Jacobsen and Amadiume but, to a large extent, fictional characters for me to use in exploring the place of love in justice. The drama opens in Professor Amadiume's dining room where she is about to eat dinner and suddenly a ghost appears at the dinner table reciting from Pushkin and she invites the ghost to join her in breaking bread.

JJ: 'I am no more the ardent lover

Who caused the world such vast amaze:

My spring is past, my summer over,

And dead the fires of other days,

Oh, Eros, god of youth! Your servant

Was loyal - that you will avow,

Could I be born again this moment,

Ah, with what zest I'd serve you now!'

(Pushkin, 'Old Man', 1815)

IA: Oh admirer of the grandson of the 'Negro of Peter the Great', come and join me in breaking bread.

JJ: How can you invite a total stranger to share your meal. You do not even know what I am.

IA: It is an African thing. You won't understand.

JJ: Try me.

IA: Africans always invite anyone around to join in a meal. We say bia rie ihe in Igbo, zo ka ci abinci in Hausa, wa jeun in Yoruba and di dia mkpo in Efik, all of which mean; come and eat something or simply, come chop in broken English. In fact, it is customary to invite the spirits of our ancestors to join in every meal. That is why we pour libations.

JJ: So you know that I am a spirit.

IA: Everyone is a spirit.

JJ: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. But I am really a ghost, are you not scared or spooked?

IA: No, as Peter Tosh would say, I am a duppy (ghost in patois) conqueror. I shall walk through the valley of the shadow of death but I shall fear no evil because the Lord is with me.

JJ: You are still backwardly religious

IA: And backwardly loving too, what is wrong with that?

JJ: You should live in truth not in love and religion.

IA: Well, love is true and religious faith is a true fact of life in the black community. No race of people can survive the holocaust that my people survived without a strong faith in the being upstairs or without striving to love even the enemy. You know why? I will quote a sister, Cheryl Clarke, to explain why with reference to lesbian love:

'... all of us would do well to stop fighting each other for our space at the bottom, because there ain't no more room. We have spent so much time hating ourselves. Time to love ourselves. And that ... is the final resistance.' - Cheryl Clarke (1983).

JJ: Interesting stuff. You are absolutely right that the oppressed cannot survive if they keep fighting one another for crumbs. That is a truth. You do not need religion or love to tell you that.

IA: So what have you got against love?

JJ: What's love got to do with it? Let me quote for you something that I said to Albert A. Anderson in a 1991 dialogue when he asked me what is the difference between Christian love and natural compassion. I answered that;

'Love means nothing, because it has come to mean so many things. It can be sexual relations, it can be somebody wanting to protect...it can mean anything. You see two animals mate, and you call that love; or one animal helps another. …

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