In July, Sierra Leone became the 23rd African country to abolish the death penalty. Although its use across the continent has dwindled – thanks to concerted efforts from human rights organisations and governments – the death penalty remains on many more countries’ statute books due to its strong colonial legacy.
During the colonial period, punishments that were being abandoned in Europe found fertile ground in Africa. Among them was the death penalty, which was deployed as a key element in the mechanism of colonial repression.
While imprisonment became the most common response to crimes in colonial Africa, the death penalty was at the heart of the colonial project, its practice deeply woven into the fabric of state formation and citizenship building.
African political entities did not use the death penalty before colonialism? What nonsense is this?
What might usefully distinguish said colonial period is the infrequency with which it was applied as compared to earlier…..