Must Land Reform Benefit the Victims of Colonialism?

Philosophia Africana 19 (2):122-137 (2020)
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Appealing to African values associated with ubuntu such as communion and reconciliation, elsewhere I have argued that they require compensating those who have been wronged in ways that are likely to improve their lives. In the context of land reform, I further contended that this principle probably entails not transferring unjustly acquired land en masse and immediately to dispossessed populations since doing so would foreseeably lead to such things as capital flight and food shortages, which would harm them and the broader society. Oritsegbubemi Anthony Oyowe has recently argued against my claim that land reform should be enacted in a way expected to benefit victims of colonialism while not greatly burdening innocent third parties, instead supporting the return of land to its rightful owners regardless of how the manner in which it were done would affect people’s quality of life. Here I expound Oyowe’s argumentation and respond to it in defence of my initial position, appealing to examples from southern Africa to illustrate.

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Thaddeus Metz
Cornell University (PhD)


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