Citizenship in Neo-Patrilineal States: Gender and Mobility in Southern Africa

Published: 12/Jun/1996

By: A. P. Cheater and R. B. Gaidzanwa

Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Jun., 1996), pp. 189-200

Following independence, many states in Southern Africa have modified their rules of access to citizenship, moving from the territorial model of ius soli (applied during the (late) colonial period by and to white settlers) to the more exclusive, descent-based model of ius sanguinis, in a specifically patrilineal mode which explicitly rejects bilateral principles. Newly-independent states in Southern Africa have stressed patrilineality as the basis of their new citizenship, even where, in colonial if not precolonial times, descent systems were recorded as showing only a weak commitment to patrilineality (e.g. the Shona of Zimbabwe), or were unambiguously bilateral (the Lozi of Zambia) or even matrilineal (many Zambian and Malawian ‘tribal’ categories). Many authors have already analysed the legal disabilities that female citizens suffer in their ordinary lives as a result of this state-defined identity bias. This paper looks at the situation of women who marry across, and those who on informal trade move extensively across, state boundaries, and their position in relation to the new patri-biased citizenship rules.

Link to article on JSTOR website.

Themes: Gender
Regions: Southern Africa
Year: 1996