Ethnic nationalism and democratisation in South Africa : political implications for the rainbow nation

Naidoo, Vinothan (2000) Ethnic nationalism and democratisation in South Africa : political implications for the rainbow nation. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Ethnic identities in South Africa have had a particularly contrived history, set within the constraints and motivations of population classification by race. A more democratic political environment emerged with the dismantling of apartheid, bringing with it a multitude of issues including the design and character of the country’s political institutions and framework. This thesis will address two principal questions. The first and primary one investigates what lies behind the initiation and development of ethnic bonds. The second concerns the political implications and management of ethnic expressions in a democratic South Africa. An analysis of Zulu ethnic nationalism will be undertaken, because it constituted the most prominent case of assertive communal interests during democratic transitional negotiations. This thesis argues that circumstantial and instrumental factors (based on conditions, and the actions of individuals and organizations respectively), have been predominately responsible for the initiation and formation of ethnic bonds, especially amongst those who identify with a Zulu identity. The “conditions” describe the increasingly segregationist direction in which successive South African government authorities were moving, especially after the 1948 election victory of the National Party and the subsequent introduction of apartheid. Secondly, the “actions” denote the motivations of both Zulu actors and governments in generating and elaborating an ethnic discourse where their desired interests could be more effectively supported and assured. It will also be argued that because of the instrumental and selective use of ethnicity, as well as the narrow interests being served by its popular and community-centred expressions, a developing South African democratic culture should seek to protect ethnic diversity rather than promote ethnic interests. To do so would be to deny the perpetuation of ethnic cleavages and the violence and instability perpetrated in its name in recent years. The “protection” of cultural diversity is consistent with a constitution that seeks non-discrimination among all South African identities. Finally, it is believed that an emphasis on the individual as individual, as well as member of a cultural group, will break from subordinating the individual to an ascribed racial and ethnic identity as in the past, and assist in reconstituting the state as equally reflective of all South Africans.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Nationalism, South Africa, Ethnicity, Democracy, Politics
Subjects:J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions (Africa, Asia, Australia, etc) > Africa
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Political Studies and International Studies
ID Code:2313
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:09 Dec 2011 07:32
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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