The Power of Land Reform

Enggass, Peter M. “Economic Geography.” Economic Geography, vol. 55, no. 4, 1979, pp. 357–358. JSTOR, JSTOR,

This article, written by Peter Enggass, discusses the book Land Reform: A World Survey, by Russell King. This article discusses the themes and overall discussions in King’s book. Enggass explains that within his book, King gives a general overview of what land reform is.  And in addition he explains how King’s intended readers are people who want to have a better and deeper understanding of land reform and what difficulties that agrarians faced. In his book King states,“The historical evolution of land reform, from classical Greece and Rome [including the] Gracchi reforms of 121 BC”. He also states that “Africa consists of a chapter devoted to Kenya and one to the poverty and inequality because systems of land tenure to be regarded as the primary obstacle to economic development”.  And like stated in the reading “Gracchus in his speeches to the people urged them to overthrow the aristocracy and establish a democratic government; and after winning the favour of all classes, he had them not only as supporters, but even as instigators of his bold objectives”. This meaning that Gracchus would use his words to convince the people to follow his rule and with the help of land reform he would break the harmony that existed previously between the senate and the equites, and make the populace a serious rival to both these classes.

~Ashley G., Team Juno

Present Generation Government And Its Effect On African Land Reform.

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For my blog this week, I researched the term: Gracchi “Land Reform” Africa and came across an article titled “South Africa’s Land Reform Crisis: Eliminating the Legacy of Apartheid.” Written and published by Bernadette Atuahene, the article brings light to the issues post-apartheid South Africa has had on the topic of land reform.

When apartheid ended, the new regime in South Africa promised to redistribute land that whites had stolen from blacks. Yet nearly two decades later, it has largely failed to do so—and the patience of the dispossessed is running out. According to the article in regards to “Section 25 of the new African constitution, promulgated in 1994, existing property owners (who were primarily white) would receive valid legal title to property acquired under prior regimes, despite the potentially dubious circumstances of its acquisition. In exchange, blacks (in South Africa, considered to include people of mixed racial descent and Indians) were Promised Land reform. “ (P121) “However the new government upheld only one side of the liberation bargain: South African whites kept their property, but blacks still have not received theirs. Political apartheid may have ended, but economic apartheid lives on.” (P122)

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Select a quote from the ancient texts that is relevant to your selected publication.

Similarly, Gracchi’s ideas of land reform, and solving tensions between the Romans and the slaves also lead to blood boiling tensions. According to the text, the land reforms of Gracchi meant that the rich Romans “collected in groups, and made lamentation, and accused the poor of appropriating the results of their tillage, their vineyards, and their dwellings… and were angry that they should be robbed of their share of the common property. “The unfair land distribution by the South African government and its natives connects to the Roman’s opinions on land reform in Appian. The Roman public argued that they had the earned the rights to their land from military services, ancestors, or loans just as South Africans argued that “they are the natives of their land, and that land must be returned to blacks in South Africa, no matter what the consequences are for the current owners and for political stability in the country” (P122).

The author highlights how the social status and economic status of many citizens have influenced what land is divided and what land is not. The rich and more fortunate of the Romans controlled and had a great majority of the land in ancient times: as is the case in South Africa with the wealthy 10% wealthy whites and the large population of natives (black, colored and Indian) thus the idea of who had the original rights to the land is presented in both times.

Who is the primary intended audience of the publication?

Originally published in a Foreign Affairs Magazine, the article seems to be directed towards a younger generation. One that is proactive and ready to make change. Constantly throughout the article, I see the author reference the economic divide as a result to the corruption the government has in this generation. I see this article as motivation to the next generation in helping making it fair and equal.

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How does the author connect the search terms one to another?

Only some of the terms I used linked together. Gracchi didn’t appear anywhere in the article but “Africa” and “land reform” were mentioned a lot in the article. Examples like these further help the author make the connection stated above (Roman and South African revolt for foreign reform.) The use of these words and how they reappear in today’s text after so long just reaffirms the concept of history repeating itself as a world of an endless recycle of information.

The appropriate MLA citation.

Atuahene, Bernadette. “South Africa’s Land Reform Crisis: Eliminating the Legacy of Apartheid.” Foreign Affairs, vol. 90, no. 4, 2011, pp. 121–129. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Shamiso Tunduwani – Team Jupiter

Crisis in South Africa

The terms I looked up on OneSearch was “Gracchi “land reform” Africa” and I found the article “South Africa’s Land Reform Crisis: Eliminating the Legacy of Apartheid” by Bernadette Atuahene. I would say the audience the author intended for are people who are very well versed in the history and politics of South Africa. The article is very specific with statistics so the audience the article targets are people who already have a lot of prior knowledge on such information. The article I found goes into a lot of detail on the problems that are occurring in South Africa as they are trying to give back the blacks land the whites had taken from them. Land is being transferred from the whites to blacks because the land the whites had were taken under colonialism and Apartheid. Only some of the terms I used linked together. Gracchi didn’t appear anywhere in the article but “Africa” and “land reform” were mentioned a lot in the article, for example, “The ANC must realize that aggressive land reform would be far less destabilizing than a violent revolt.” From page 23 of the reading “The Romans, as they subdued the Italian peoples successively in war, used to seize a part of their lands and build towns there, or enroll colonists of their own to occupy those already existing, and their idea was to use these as outposts; but of the land acquired by war they assigned the cultivated part forthwith to the colonists, or sold or leased it.” This shows that the Romans gained their land through invading other lands and colonialism. Similar to the white people who took over and colonized South Africa to make their own. Also just like in South Africa, there isn’t an easy remedy for the way they deprived men of their land and homes. The rich won’t give up their land to the poor because they want to keep the benefits without any care for the poor even though they have the power to help.

Atuahene, B. (2011). South Africa’s Land Reform Crisis: Eliminating the Legacy of Apartheid. Foreign Affairs, 90(4), 121-129.

-Alvin Zhao, Team Venus


Land Reform in Africa (Zimbabwe) and Gracchan Rome

  1. Mlambo, Obert Bernard; Mwatwara, Wesley. Moral Arguments for Land Distribution in Contemporary Zimbabwe and Gracchan Rome: A Comparative and Critical Analysis. Journal of Pan African Studies. 9.2 (Apr. 2016): p81. From Literature Resource Center.|A461127690&v=2.1&u=cuny_broo39667&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w&authCount=1
  2. The primary intended audience of this article is mainly for politicians and policy makers in Zimbabwe so that they could understand the errors of using Gracchan land reform, which has lead to corruption in the country.
  3. The search terms “Gracchi, land reform, Africa” are connected several times throughout the article, though the article mainly mentions Zimbabwe more than it does the whole continent of Africa. To summarize, Mlambo and Mwatwara point out how the Gracchan agrarian law that was used in Rome, now being used in Zimbabwe, was an inefficient land reform for the country and additionally is just morally incorrect. They claim “The period of the Gracchi in ancient European classical history reveals some of the pitfalls and dangers of human action, even when the action is intended to correct gross injustices.”
  4. A relevant quote might be “By taking control of the courts away from the senators and setting up the equites as judges, Gracchus gave the lower classes power over the nobles, and by breaking the harmony that existed previously between the senate and the equites, he made the populace a serious rival to both those classes” (Tiberius Gracchus 25). This is because this was the intention, to give more power and distribute land to those who were poorer in Zimbabwe, despite the fact that it did not work out in the end.


Stacy, Team Minerva


Throughout history, one’s symbol of status, a source of social and political influence and value/wealth was often determined by means of how much land he or she possessed. The value of land in an area is determined based on how scarce it is. Thus, the less amount of land that is available for use, the more valuable it would be. In turn, when there is a huge population and not enough of something, as with many things in life, the land is distributed unequally which causes conflicts in communities amongst economic and social classes/groups. This is where land reforms come in. By definition, land reforms are “a purposive change in the way in which agricultural land is held or owned, the methods of cultivation that are employed, or the relation of agriculture to the rest of the economy.”(Tuma)

“When the African National Congress (ANC) took power in 1994, with the black majority’s overwhelming backing, whites owned about 87% of South Africa’s farmland. The new government set a target for at least 30% of it to be transferred to blacks by 2014. More than a decade on, only 4% has changed hands.” (The Economist) Therefore, after the period of apartheid, the land was clearly not distributed fairly and the land reform did not work. The article uses the search term in many instances. For example, Mohammad Karaan, who chairs the National Agricultural Marketing Council states,”It’s not the lack of will but rather the lack of synchronization between state and market that fails land reform” (The Economist). The main reason as to why reform doesn’t work is because the reformers (government) proclaim to carry out certain objectives and make promises to appeal to the disadvantaged ones, the blacks in South Africa, but to no avail. There are, however many other contributing factors that play a role in the failure of land reform. The South African government blames the farmers for raising the prices of their land, the Department of Land Affairs is lacking the properly trained officials, files have been lost and when land is eventually sold many do not know how to run a farm and due to industrialization farm workers are left unemployed. Simply put,  the government and landowners need to work hand in hand to cater to each other needs instead of pointing fingers and casting blame. This article was written for the audience of the general public, specifically those interested in land reform in South Africa

During the Roman Republic, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus sponsored land reforms in an effort to restore the class of small independent farmers. In the section, Appian Civil Wars,8, he proposed, “that nobody should hold more than 500 jugera of this land” ( Readings on the Roman Republic page 24) the land that was acquired from the wars. He wanted any extra land that the rich owned to be taken away and given to the poor. However, he wasn’t successful because the ones who he proposed this law to, the Senate, were mainly the ones who owned the land because of their wealth. Eventually, “Gracchus himself … was slain at the door close by the statues of the kings”(page 26). Hence, it is clear to see that from the second century in the Roman Republic up to present day in South Africa, land reform is, in fact, tricky to implement. Both then and now land reform has the ability to help out the poor areas but rich people prefer to remain on top and become angry when anyone wants equality and change.

Chanté, Team Venus

Source Citations   (MLA)

“Why land reform is so tricky; South Africa.” The Economist, 5 May 2007, p. 60(US). Academic OneFile, Accessed 5 Nov. 2017.

Tuma, Elias H. “Land reform.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 3 Oct. 2013,