Feb 1, 2022Liked by isaac Samuel

Thanks. Fascinating work.

One way to think about this is not whether land tenure existed or not, but whether it was documented or not. In places with written bureaucracies we see evidence of LT that matches LT in other parts of the world. In other places it's kept by customary memory (or griots), but there's "no evidence". I suspect where land was more valuable, productive, or under population pressure (e.g. Ethiopia), there was more incentive to codify it in a lasting way, so those places get coded as having LT. In other places (e.g. the Sahel) it was less valuable and so less likely to get documented in a lasting way, so those places get coded as having no LT, even though they do/did.

In my rural Mali experience, there is customary land ownership that goes back centuries, but none of it is written. Also none of it is enforced with legal means, despited 100 yrs of a French legal system. An outsider would come to a village and think there's no Land Tenure system with rent, sale, etc. there, but there in fact is.

Expand full comment