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Who is land is it?

Peter Smith



Is land a gift given to all or is it property? The author of the book believes that exposes his underlying belief that land is gifted to humanity for them to effortlessly claim ownership of it.

Is land an object whose personality as property only occurs in the actions of human beings or it is property in the affairs of other creatures of nature?

If not, then it would be utter folly to assert a construction that expropriates the personality of humanity in the land that is related to the humans who are endowed with the power of causation and agency.

Property exists in the affairs of humans.


The Land Is Ours tells the story of South Africa’s first black lawyers, who operated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In an age of aggressive colonial expansion, land dispostsession and forced labour, these men believed in a constitutional system that respected individual rights and freedoms, and they used the law as an instrument against injustice. The book follows the lives, ideas and careers of Henry Sylvester Williams, Alfred Mangena, Richard Msimang, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Ngcubu Poswayo and George Montsioa, who were all members of the ANC. It analyses the legal cases they took on, explores how they reconciled the law with the political upheavals of the day, and considers how they sustained their fidelity to the law when legal victories were undermined by politics. The Land Is Ours shows that these lawyers developed the concept of a Bill of Rights, which is now an international norm. The book is particularly relevant in light of current calls to scrap the Constitution and its protections of individual rights: it clearly demonstrates that, from the beginning, the struggle for freedom was based on the idea of the rule of law.

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