Land Tenure and Family Conflict in Rwanda: Case of Musanze District

  • Joseph R. RukemaEmail author
  • Sultan Khan
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


Colonialism in much of Africa shaped the way in which indigenous communities acquired and utilized land. It impacted negatively on traditional structures that sustained land ownership and its use. At the end of colonialism, new contestations arose to meet the needs of land users and claimants. Central to this is the return to customary prescriptions for achieving land security against rising levels of scarcity prompted by urbanization and commercial agriculture. Many regions in Africa, like Rwanda, have experienced growing conflicts with respect to land access. In 1994, Rwanda, being besieged by the most horrific genocide in the history of humankind, has not been spared of land-related violence, especially from those that have experienced land displacement. As part of its reconstruction, land tenure in Rwanda is now perceived to be a gateway towards peace building and social stability. The chapter draws from qualitative data arising from focus group studies with twenty males and females and in-depth interviews with community leaders and local government officials on the nature and extent of family disputes over land. It is in this context that this chapter explores the extent of family conflict over land ownership, the causes of family conflicts over land tenure and the nature of community and government mechanisms for settling family disputes over land in Musanze District. Considering that half of all disputes are over land, particularly over inheritance, involving families in the rural areas, land relations threaten social cohesion and lasting peace in Rwanda.


Colonialism Land ownership Land violence Family conflict Rwanda 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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