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O se re ho morwa 'morwa towe!' African jurisprudence exhumed

  • Journal Title: Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa
  • Volume: Volume 43
  • Issue:  Issue 3
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Pages: 317  - 336
  • Authors:  Nqosa L. Mahao;
  • ISSN: 00104051
  • Abstract:  The article is an intervention in the discourse around African jurisprudence and its relevance to contemporary post-colonial African society. It repudiates suggestions that African jurisprudence (botho/ubuntu) is unenlightened and inconsistent with the progressive values undergirding the South African Constitution. Drawing lessons largely from the pre-colonial 18th century history of the Basotho kingdom, the article explores how popular participation in that system was a leitmotif of democratic accountability. It lays bare a number of doctrines that abetted the efficacy, effectiveness and accountability of the political system. African jurisprudence also practised human dignity in a way that pulled into harmony formal and substantive justice. It contends that in African jurisprudence human dignity was indivisible. Political and civil freedoms were not separable from socio-economic rights. Finally, the article reviews how the doctrine 'O se re ho Morwa: 'morwa towe!' not only ensured respect and dignity of every citizen, but was also the anchor of social cohesion and harmony in a multi-cultural society.
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