About Us


Indigenous Africa documents historical and contemporary cases of human rights violations against indigenous peoples of Africa. Detailed case studies vary by country and type of violation. Subject to high levels of discrimination and persecution and low levels of political representation, pastoralists/herders, agro-pastoralists, and hunter-gatherers are losing their traditional territories and grazing lands to powerful interests.

This includes:

  • International conservation organizations
  • Large-scale agribusiness
  • Small-scale farmers (who tend to be favored by their governments)
  • Infrastructure projects
  • Extractive industries
  • Political conflicts that produce refugee crises
  • Expansion of urban areas
  • Language violation


These threats undermine and put at risk the ability of indigenous communities in Africa to maintain their land, livelihoods, and cultures. Indigenous Peoples across the continent of Africa are subject to a lack of respect for their rights to land, territory, resources, self-determination, and basic human rights. This is due in part to the collusion between state and corporate interests, as well as to the rhetorical position taken by all African states that there are no Indigenous Peoples on the continent.

This website currently includes 90+ cases and is continually expanding.
We will continue to add more cases as they arise and can be verified.

An additional challenge is the rhetorical position taken by African states that all Africans are “indigenous,” thereby rejecting the applicability of “indigenous peoples” in this context. Nonetheless, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) recognizes a number of peoples in Africa as indigenous. In 2007, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was passed by a majority (144) of member states, including 35 African states.

According to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), African pastoralists and hunter-gatherers who identify themselves as indigenous and who participate in the global indigenous rights movement share the following:

[T]heir cultures and ways of life differ considerably from the dominant society and their cultures are under threat, in some cases to the extent of extinction. A key characteristic for most of them is that the survival of their particular way of life depends on access and rights to their traditional land and the natural resources thereon. They suffer from discrimination as they are being regarded as less developed and less advanced than other more dominant sectors of society. They often live in inaccessible regions, often geographically isolated, and suffer from various forms of marginalization, both politically and socially. They are subject to domination and exploitation within national political and economic structures that are commonly designed to reflect the interests and activities of the national majority. This discrimination, domination, and marginalization violates their human rights as peoples/communities, threatens the continuation of their cultures and ways of life, and prevents them from being able to genuinely participate in deciding on their own future and forms of development.

(Report of the African Commssion’s Working Group of Experts on Indigenous Populations/Communities, 2005, p.89)

Who We Are

Indigenous Africa contributors are students and members of Indigenous Africa (IndigenousAFR), a Sponsored Student Organization at the University of Michigan sponsored by the African Studies Center. Indigenous Africa has been active since 2014 and has hosted a changing team of students and contributors at various stages of their education. While our team is primarily at the University of Michigan, our goal is to work in partnership with indigenous rights organizations on the continent and beyond. You can check out our partner organizations here.

Indigenous Africa gratefully acknowledges the support and contributions of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and LSA Technology Services, which facilitated the inception of this project.

We also wish to acknowledge our sponsors, affiliations, and additional funding sources at the University of Michigan:

  • College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA)
  • Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS)
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Donia Human Rights Center
  • Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives (OAMI)
  • Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS)
  • School of Information (UMSI)

Their collective support has been instrumental in the development, research, and maintenance of this website dedicated to documenting human rights violations against indigenous peoples in Africa.