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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Through the narrow door': narratives of the first generation of African lawyers in Zimbabwe
Author:Karekwaivanane, George H.
Year:2016
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Volume:86
Issue:1
Pages:59-77
Language:English
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:lawyers
State-society relationship
citizenship
Link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972015000789
Abstract:Given the important role played by lawyers in formal legal systems, the study of legal professionals can help us understand the efforts to maintain law and social order in Africa. This article examines the narratives of two Zimbabwean lawyers, Kennedy Sibanda and Honour Mkushi, about their experiences as legal professionals between 1970 and 1990, and makes three main arguments. Firstly, these narratives reveal the complex interplay between individual agency, politics and law across the two decades. Secondly, lawyers' participation in the social and political struggles of the period were informed by a set of personal and professional ethics that were grounded in concerns about the welfare of the wider communities to which they belonged. This highlights the need to avoid a default cynicism with regard to African elites and move instead towards a more nuanced understanding of the motives of such individuals and their contribution to the social, economic and political struggles of which they are a part. Lastly, these lawyers were cross-cultural brokers who were constantly involved in a two-way translation. On the one hand, they translated the concepts and stipulations of state law for their African clients; on the other, they translated their clients' grievances into the language of the law. This process of translation acted as a catalyst in the reshaping of African subjectivities and their conceptions of their relationship with the state, and enabled Africans to assert themselves as rights-bearing citizens. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]
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