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The IUP Journal of Law Review :
The Issue of Collective Land Ownership Under African Customary Land Law: The Case of Cameroon
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Customary landholding generally connotes the various methods of acquisition and use including rights and duties that may accrue to any individual or group within a particular society in relation to land. Customary land law in Africa in general and Cameroon in particular has existed for centuries, serving as an integral part of traditional agricultural economies. African customary land law recognizes the fact that land in Africa is owned collectively by a family, village or community and not by an individual. Therefore, an individualís title to land is rare under African customary law in general and Cameroon in particular. Individual ownership of land under African customary land law is a feature of modernization. This paper investigates why land is still mostly held collectively by a family, village or community and not by an individual under customary law. The author accomplishes this by perusing records mainly from documentary and internet search. The data collected constitutes the sources from which customary and statutory law rules are drawn, stated and analyzed in the light of the stated aim of the paper. The results inter alia identify that land is held principally by the family and community under customary law and that the genesis of individual ownership is a product of modernism. The results are significant because they expose the weaknesses of the customary law regarding individual ownership of land.

 
 
 

The concept of customary landholding defines the ways in which individuals gain access to, and acquire rights of land use, either temporarily or permanently under customary law.1 This means that certain privileges, opportunities and claims are conferred on individual users of land. These privileges and opportunities are manifested through community actions, family and individual holdings.2 However, under customary landholding, there is restriction on the alienation of communal or family property by an individual member.3 This restriction is necessary since possessory rights are not absolute rights. Nevertheless, absolute rights or ownership of property under African customary law has been a bone of contention especially when equated with other systems of ownership of land under common law.

The notion of ownership can be described as the most comprehensive relation that may exist between man and property.

 
 
 

Law Review Journal,Communal Holding Under African Customary Law,Representative Management and Control, Proof of Family Title to Land.