Legal pluralism - defined as a situation in which "more than one legal
system operate(s) in a single political unit" - is a practical reality in a large
number of countries in the world, most notably in the post-colonial states of
Africa. These newly-independent states are grappling with how to
preserve the cultural heritage reflected in their customary law and
institutions, even as they attempt to function as modern constitutional
regimes.' Many of their constitutions preserve a role for customary law or
recognize the inevitability of legal pluralism in the state. But few have
found a functional and effective way of implementing legal pluralism or,
more specifically, defining the relationships between the pluralistic
This Article attempts to define the challenges and opportunities
associated with linking statutory and customary adjudication. In order to
assess the various approaches to the problem, it is necessary to evaluate the
appropriate goals and purposes of legal pluralism, distinguishing the
motivations of many who have exploited pluralistic systems for their own
self-interest. It is also necessary to recognize and preserve the virtues
inherent in customary systems, which have been historically undervalued
as "primitive," and remain under attack by those who see them as a threat
to the protection of human rights.
Striking these balances to implement legal pluralism in Mozambique
presents serious, but by no means unique, challenges. Mozambique's
current situation serves as a case in point for application of the principles
developed in this Article.
"Legal Pluralism in Post-Colonial Africa: Linking Statutory and Customary Adjudication in Mozambique,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Journal:
1, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol14/iss1/2