IMPACT OF ENGLISH LAW UPON AFRICAN LAW
THE brief survey of the main principles underlying African legal theory, which we have just attempted, naturally prompts the enquiry as to how much of it is of contemporary relevance and what prospect it has for survival in its contact with outside influences.
English law has impinged upon African law in two main respects: (a) in its modifying influence on those aspects of indigenous customary law which have so far survived the impact of British legal and cultural invasion; and (b) in its creative role of supplying the deficiencies of the traditional law and usage brought about by the new commercial and economic values. The first category relates to such phenomena as changes in property law (e.g. corporate and inalienable ownership becoming gradually individual and alienable), the growth of landlord and tenant relationship as rents become payable in lieu of traditional dues, the increasing though gradual break-up in the customary ties of family and lineage with a consequent narrowing in the individual's sense of obligation towards his kin. The second embraces the introduction of criminal law and procedure, mercantile law (e.g. banking, insurance, negotiable instruments and bills of exchange), and industrial law regulating the relations between the new class of wage-earners -- an unknown quantity in indigenous society -- and the equally new aristocracy of employers of labour.
In its earlier encounter with English law under comparable auspices, the Roman-Dutch law of Ceylon and South Africa has undergone a similar transformation, as have Hindu, Mohammedan and Burmese laws of India, Pakistan and Burma. Julius Lewin has suggested 1 that the spread of Christianity in Africa might 'help to inaugurate an era of uniformity of European ideas among Europeans and Africans alike'. While a greater degree of____________________