An alternative conceptualization of indigenous rights in Africa under the international human rights law framework

Ruwadzano P. Makumbe


This article is a practice-based elucidation of how indigenous rights can be securely protected and implemented in the broader human rights discourse. The concept of indigeneity is contested in many African countries with the primary question being: Who is indigenous? The ‘politics of recognition’ have stalled the work of the African indigenous rights movement thus far and this paper builds upon the discourse on Indigenous rights, making a proposition towards an effective machinery to facilitate their protection. Therefore, the focus is to construct a different perspective which emphasizes the need to utilize, develop and improve the existent human rights machinery. This is done through the reconceptualization of indigenous rights by utilizing the ethno-cultural protections machinery. In the last part of this article I look at the San peoples in Zimbabwe as a representative case study to bring into perspective the lived realities of indigenous peoples in Africa.

Received: 28 June 2018
Accepted: 23 October 2018
Published online: 11 December 2018


human rights; ethno-cultural diversity protections; indigenous rights; Africa

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