|Africa, Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa on 2012-07-09 00:06Z by Steven|
Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Professor in the Department of Development Studies
University of South Africa
This article discusses how the politics of South African identity-making continues to be spoiled by racialised and ethnicised identities cascading from colonialism and apartheid. These problematic identities continue to live on, raising sensitive issues of nativity versus settlerism as well as rights versus entitlement to resources. Identity issues cannot be understood without a clear historical analysis of politics of translating a geographical expression into a national identity that dates back to colonial encounters. The article unpacks complex nationalisms, namely Anglicisation, Afrikanerisation, and Africanisation, that operated as ID-ologies, i.e. identitarian quests for a shared identity, albeit mediated by notions of whiteness and blackness. These ID-ologies became sites of struggles mediated by vicissitudes of inclusions and exclusions. The question of who was the subject of liberation, who constitutes the ‘authentic’ subject of the nation, and who is entitled to resources such as land and mines remain contested. Whites use the constitution to claim rights and to maintain the status quo of privilege, whereas Africans try to mobilise notions of both rights and entitlements as part of the redress of past and present exclusions.
This article traces the problematics of the idea of South Africa with a view to enlighten the current questions of belonging, citizenship, and ownership of resources rocking the country. It is a historical study that explores changing translations of a geographical expression into an identity of a people. The historical analysis slices right through the imperial and colonial encounters of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, right up to the present constructions of the ‘rainbow nation’. The main proposition of the article is thay South African national identity is, if not a failing national project, at least very much a contested work in progress, which is open to different interpretations and trajectories. This proposition is given credence by the fact that racialised and ethnicised identities formed under imperialism, colonialism, and apartheid continue to hang like a nightmare on the body politic of the rainbow nation, refusing to die. and continuing to throw up toxic questions around issues of belonging, citizenship, entitlement and ownership of resources like land and mines…
Read or purchase the article here.