You are here:


The politics and poetics of old age: Drawing on Law and Literature to assess the (cultural) legitimacy of African Union norms on the rights of older persons

The African Union in January 2016 adopted a treaty – the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Older Persons – dealing with the rights of older persons in Africa. Since then, very few African states have accepted this Protocol as binding law. One explanation for this reticence may be that the Protocol does not capture the ‘lived reality’ of older persons in Africa, and does not resonate with ‘African conceptions’ of old age. Our project sets out to reflect on this postulation by juxtaposing the provisions of the Protocol with the representation in African literature of old age and the lived experiences of older persons in Africa. The research aims to focus on 21st century literature by African authors, written mainly in French and English, from a wide variety of African countries, including North Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. From these texts, the project aims to distil images and conceptions of African old age, avoiding a simplistic unitary view, and guarding against any form of essentialising experience. The findings will add to a very limited literature on old age in Africa, and will inform an ongoing campaign to advocate for the ratification by more African states of the Protocol.


Fellows involved in this project

Visiting scholar
South Africa
Visiting scholar
South Africa

Share this project:

Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].