This essay reviews the book co-edited by Logan Cochrane and Nathan Andrews, The Transnational Land Rush in Africa: A Decade After the Spike. The book has three parts, in addition to the introduction and concluding chapter. The first part, Part I contain four chapters under the theme, The Land-Development Nexus: Grand Discourses, Social Injustice and Contestations. The second part, Part II encompass three chapter under Informality and ‘New’ Customary Land Tenure Landscapes theme. The third part, Part III contain two chapters under the Formalization, Domestic Agency and Legacies of Legal Pluralism theme. This review focuses on the book's third part, which includes studies from Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Customary land tenure
In my view, land reform ideas, opportunities and challenges should be informed directly by people depending on land and fighting for different social relations: rural women, rural movements, farm workers, urban land occupiers, shack dwellers, and smallholder farmers. Without listening to them, land reform will not result in just societies.
Since the 1960s, land reform has been a key topic in Africa. Many land policies have been formulated and related programmes have been implemented - all in the name of improving agricultural investment and therefore, productivity, as well as bringing about general social and economic development. By doing so, many land policies and land reform interventions worked to do away with African landholding systems which were dubbed "static, rigid, insular, inflexible, incompatible, and insecure" due to the absence of clearly defined and enforceable property rights. It is these perceived weaknesses 'inherent' in African landholding system that prompted the need for land reform. Pauline E. Peters and many others have widely criticised these conventional premises of land policies and land reform interventions in Africa - and so she continues in the chapter The Significance of Descent- Based 'Customary' Land Management for Land Reform and Agricultural Futures in Africa of the edited volume Rethinking Land Reform in Africa: New Ideas, Opportunities and Challenges.