Academic journal article African Studies Review

Constitutionalism and Society in Africa

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Constitutionalism and Society in Africa

Article excerpt

Okon Akiba, ed. Constitutionalism and Society in Africa. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, 2004. 172 pp. Notes. Index. $89.95. Cloth.

This book is an attempt to place important constitutional issues in Africa in their broader social and political context. It grows out of a Ford Foundation-funded symposium on the very subject of this volume, although papers included have been subsequently revised and updated. The main themes covered are the relevance of African values to current constitutional reforms, citizenship and civil liberties, ethnicity and pluralism, and democratic means of control of the military. The geographic focus tends to be Nigeria, but there is a substantive discussion by Mahmood Mamdani of citizenship issues in the Great Lakes region. A bonus is the exhortatory epilogue by WoIe Soyinka, "We, the People-Our Dignity and the Constitution."

Like most volumes coming out of a conference, the individual contributions do not hang together. Although the editor has done a good job in presenting and synthesizing the main issues discussed in the volume, there is no real attempt to draw any theoretical-or practical policy-conclusions. Not surprisingly, the individual chapters vary in quality and thoroughness. …

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