At the turn of the twenty-first century “land reform” has become a dominant political issue in southern Africa. The post-apartheid legacy of racism and inequality of Namibia has many manifestations, but the vast expanses of whiteowned farms are among the most visible reminders. Violent land seizures in Zimbabwe highlighted a political problem with parallels in both Namibia and South Africa, with a message in the subtext: if deliberate legal measures are not taken to achieve land reform, the people will inevitably use force to “take back” the lands that were stolen from them during the colonial era.1 As a legal issue, land reform is among the most challenging possibilities of the law: it requires a major transformation of property rights in impoverished and racist agrarian societies through peaceful, legal means.2 As a historical issue, the justification for land reform is rooted in past injustices – colonial era land loss. Land reform has many meanings, in different contexts, but in each of these

southern African contexts it means “the redistribution of property rights or rights in land for the benefit of the landless, tenants, or farm laborers.”3 There is no need to include race in this definition, but all involved know from the racist and colonial history of the region that white farms are to be somehow acquired and redistributed to blacks: the “race issue” dominates all other issues in the postapartheid era as a distinct “racial geography” divided southern Africa into “white” and “black” areas.4 By definition, the land reform process transforms existing political and economic relations by creating wealth for people with nothing and politically empowering classes of people who have been poor and landless.5 White farmers, who have held disproportionate political and economic power, lose much, most, or even all of their power to blacks, including their former farm laborers.6 And, beyond lofty images of power and economics, land reform will enable black peasant farmers to have the chance to grow enough food to feed their families: a simple strategy of poverty alleviation in societies where children go hungry.7