Jah children : the experience of Rastafari children in South Africa as members of a minority group with particular reference to communities in the former Cape Province

Bain, Pauline (2004) Jah children : the experience of Rastafari children in South Africa as members of a minority group with particular reference to communities in the former Cape Province. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




This thesis is an ethnography of Rastafari childhood in the former Cape Province, South Africa, through the eyes of both parents and children. If children are a ‘muted group’, then what are the identity formation implications for “double-muted” groups, the children of ethnic minorities whose voices are not heard? Rasta parents’ experience of the struggle, ie. the opposition to apartheid, has shaped the Rastafari chant of ‘equal rights’ and ‘justice’ into a distinctly South African form of protest and resistance. Their childhood experiences have resulted in a desire to provide a better life for their children, using Rastafari as a vehicle. This is expressed in a continuation of the struggle that was started during apartheid, in the Rasta ideology children grow up learning. The Rasta child has become a contested body in this struggle. The South African Government, through policy, has a mandate to protect the child, and legislature exists to do so in accordance with international law. However, as child-raising differs phenomenally from culture to culture, these goals on the part of the State start infringing upon the rights and freedoms of minorities to raise their children according to their own cultural goals. This study examines the tension between Rastafari and government with regards to child raising, specifically looking at the following main points of contestation: public health, public schools and policy/legislation; in order to examine how Rasta children negotiate their identity in the face of these conflicting messages and struggles. Their identity can be influenced by three main groups, the Rasta family they grow up in; school; and multi-media. What these children choose to accept or reject in their worldview is moderated by their own agency. This study shows that this tension results in a new generation of Rastafari children, who are strongly grounded in an identity as Rastafari and take pride in this identity. It also illustrates how Rastafari are impacting on and changing government policy through resistance. Their successes in challenging the state on the grounds of multiculturalism and religious freedom, has helped in the attainment of a sense of dignity.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Rastafari movement, South Africa, Reggae music, Children
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Anthropology
ID Code:2670
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:23 Apr 2012 10:31
Last Modified:23 Apr 2012 10:31
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