The African Context of Human Rights: Development, Equality, and Justice
While no one denies that Africa today faces peculiar problems in the area of human rights, development, and justice, one may still ask: How peculiar, in fact, are African problems, or the people's reaction to them? This chapter explores this question in the context of the link between the African concept of human rights and the regional or global perspectives that shape most of the strategies for human rights implementation in the continent.
One may concede that, unlike Europe and the Far East in the past, Africa today is not in a position to use plunder, slavery, colonization, and the brutal exploitation of its own and other peoples to achieve its own development and that the African predicament is not diminished by this narrowing down of options. But the search for appropriate strategies for development is not helped by the kind of foreign criticism that interprets the African problem in terms of an inherent genetic deficiency on the part of the blacks.
It should be stated at the outset that the concept of human rights is not new in Africa. From precolonial times Africans have enjoyed the right to free speech and of sanctuary in temples and In matrilineal homes, as well as the right to participate in public affairs and