In their quest for economic development through increased private investment, many developing countries are reformulating land policies to pave way for the transformation of communal land rights into private property. However, these customary land reform efforts have often been frustrated by indigenous people who feel such proposals threaten rural livelihoods and undermine the traditional political structures. Most of the research on this subject has focused on whether, how and/or to what extent the objectives of land reforms (e.g. tenure security and hypothecation) have been achieved. However, there is a lack of scholarly research on how and why indigenous people’s cultural perspectives and belief systems on land (can) undermine progress on customary land reform. The paper examines and shows how customary land reform aspirations can be undermined by not only the ambiguity of national legal frameworks and lack of participation of local communities in the design of land reform policies/law, but also the indigenous people’s long-standing cultural perspectives/belief systems on customary land (reform). We recommend that more innovative ways and further research are needed to achieve land reform and economic development. This, however, should take on board the cultural aspirations of the indigenes’ way of life, belief systems and values.
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