Lately, in popular national discourse, the spread has intensified of factoids that are deliberately being told, in order to present customary tenure in a negative light and in order to discredit customary tenure so that it is converted into other forms of tenure that better facilitate the interest of neoliberal capitalism.
A factoid is “an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print”, in other words what has come to be known as fake news.
Three factoids about customary tenure that my story directly falsifies, among others, are:
Customary tenure bars women from owning land. False. I bought my land from a woman who was clearly recognised by her community as a landowner. I am a woman and I was fully recognised as a legitimate person to whom land can be sold. Our clans and the village local councils protected our interests as female landowners in the same way that they do of male landowners.
Customary tenure stands in the way of development and of progress. False. When a major national development project comes along it is in fact easier for government to settle claims of land under customary tenure than it is for it to settle claims of land held under other forms of tenure.
Cultural institutions, which the Constitution confers rights to manage land under customary tenure, have insufficient capacity and no records. False. central government agencies, including courts of law, rely on the competence and records of cultural institutions – some records which are passed down in the African oral tradition.