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Pretexts: literar y an d cultura l studies , Vol . 10, No . 1, 2001

literar y an d cultura l studies , Vol . 10, No . 1, 2001 T

T he Stat e of Nation-building in the New South Africa


In this lecture , 1 I intend to problematis e the concept of nation-buildin g and to conside r in which ways and wit h what measur e of succes s we can be sai d to be involve d in a nation-buildin g projec t in post-aparthei d Sout h Africa . It is my belief that most of us are trappe d in Eurocentric concepts of ‘ nation’ , ‘race ’, ‘ethni c groups ’ an d other such putative socia l entities . One of the consequences of this fact is that we cannot arriv e at strategie s that promote minimally , the networking , and optimally , the integration , of the populatio n of South Africa . Unless, therefore , we can invent a new discours e involvin g a new se t of concepts that is more appropriat e to the peculiaritie s of Sout h Africa n history , seen in the context of worl d history , we are doomed to repeat many of the mistake s that have bee n mad e in so many post-colonia l Africa n as well as in other former colonia l states .

Som e Basi c Assumption s

In order to have a reasonabl e discussio n with some hope of arrivin g at a sense of direction , I have to spell out som e of my basi c assumptions . I do this because I believ e it is essentia l that my audience follo w my trai n of thought from the beginnin g and in order that the participant s can say exactly where the y part company wit h the fram e of referenc e I use for my analysis . To begin with , I understan d the nation to be a historicall y speci c political community. Whatever else the ‘ nation’ migh t be for individual s and groups , 2 it is constitute d by peopl e who have been thrown together through particula r historica l events and who have thereby acquire d a community of interes t in spit e of contradiction s of both an antagonisti c an d a non-antagonist ic kind . Followin g Benedict Anderson (1983: 55), I accept that administrativ e unit s , if the y endure ove r time , can acquir e or creat e meanin g . Concretely, this mean s that eve n oppressed , indeed enslaved , group s of people an d individual s eventuall y identif y wit h the political –territoria l community that has evolved , no matter how arbitrar y or ‘ arti cial ’ it s origins . One nee d onl y refe r to suc h situation s as that of the USA or Brazil to understan d how thi s proces s takes place . In the South Africa n case , it is a fact that howeve r much liberatio n movements have condemned colonia l conquest , slavery , etc., there is not today, and, if we leav e asid e a fe w episodi c moments, ther e has not bee n since 1910, a singl e political formation, whether of the oppresso r or of the oppressed , that has not accepte d the realit y an d the internationa l legalit y of the South Africa n state . Thi s state , as is well known, was the resul t of a compromise between Afrikaner nationalists , i.e . Boer general s representin g the so-calle d independent Boer republics , and the Britis h Empire, a compromise that

ISS N 1015– 549X print / ISS N 1470–1022 online/ 01/ 010083-09 Ó 2001 Taylo r & Franci s Ltd

DOI : 10.1080/ 10155490120069061

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explicitl y excluded ‘people of colour’ fro m the franchise . Today, certainly , ever y singl e politica l formation accept s that we are all Sout h African s in this purely juridica l sense, i.e . as compare d wit h other state s in the world. 3 At a descriptiv e level , it could be sai d that an y group of ruler s in the present era , by whatever rout e the y may have come to power, have, minimally , to establis h or / and maintai n the coherence of the stat e and the stabilit y of the society in order, among other things , to attrac t domesti c an d foreig n investmen t and to be able to trade and to conduct administrativ e processe s in a mor e or less consisten t manner. Th e inhabitant s or citizen s of such an averag e abstrac t modern stat e are, agai n minimally , concerne d that they be allowe d to ge t on wit h thei r own affair s and wit h the genera l busines s of life . However , territoria l and political –militar y coherenc e an d the materia l realit y of state s does not imply that there is als o ideologica l cohesio n and, therefore, social stability . Peopl e identif y necessaril y wit h the stat e as it exist s because, give n consciousnes s of a large r whole, all people requir e to mak e sense of where they t int o the picture, as it were . Ideology refer s to the systemati c or paradigmati c explanation s which individual s an d groups of peopl e fashio n or accept in orde r to make their live s meaningful . In all cases , the ideas of the rulin g elit e are decisiv e in regar d to the myths, beliefs , value s and vision s whic h the generalit y of the populatio n accepts . At thi s level , whic h is by no means merely ‘ superstructural ’, what has to be identi ed an d addresse d are those centrifuga l moments (line s of cleavage , faultlines ) whic h divid e the populatio n int o mor e or less diverging , even hostil e camps. To put it differently , the rulin g classe s have to mobilis e the consen t of the entire populatio n to thei r speci c perspective(s ) on economic , socia l and cultura l development , i.e . the y have to establis h their hege- mony, since no stat e coul d endure merel y on the basi s of coercio n through the us e of the availabl e repressiv e apparatuses . In the Sout h Africa n case , the dominanc e of the aparthei d ideology , whic h has been eliminated , has to be displace d by the hegemon y of the non-racia l ideolog y ostensibl y espouse d and promoted by the liberatio n movement, take n as a whole. Th e clairvoyan t predictio n of Olive Schreine r (1923: 61– 62), committed to pape r at the very end of the nineteent h century, set the agenda for the politica l clas s of Sout h Afric a durin g the entir e twentiet h century.

Wherever a Dutchman, an Englishman , a Je w and a nativ e are superim - posed, there is that common Sout h Africa n condition through which no dividin g line can be drawn. … Sout h Africa n unit y is not the dream of a

visionary , it is not eve n the forecas t of genius , whic h make s clea r an d at hand that which onl y after age s can accomplish . … Sout h African unity is

a condition the practica l necessit y for which is dail y and hourly forced

upon us by the common needs of life : it is the one pat h open to us. For this unit y all grea t men born in Sout h Africa during the next century will

be compelled directl y or indirectl y to labour ; it is thi s unit y which must precede the productio n of anythin g grea t and beautifu l by our people as

a whole. … It is the attainmen t of this unit y whic h constitutes the problem

of Sout h Africa : Ho w fro m ou r politica l state s an d ou r discordan t races , ca n a great , a healthy , a united, an organize d natio n be formed ?

Because of the widesprea d belief that the natio n stat e (or nationa l state ) has overstaye d it s welcom e on the planet , it is essentia l that I stres s the continuing

Nation-buildin g in the Ne w Sout h Afric a 85

realit y of this entit y eve n in the era of globalisation , when the stat e is becoming increasingl y vulnerable , not to say subject, to the interest s of transnationa l gian t corporation s (se e Castell s 1998: 307– 308). Finally , als o without furthe r elaboration , I want to poin t to the fact that all peopl e have multipl e identities , whic h are of varyin g importance to them. Indeed , in a stat e made up of many socia l groups of divers e nationa l or geographica l origin , the relationshi p between som e of the notion s that people have of who the y are is of paramoun t importance .

Nation-buildin g in Africa

Previou s attempts at nation buildin g in post-colonia l Africa constitut e a very comple x area , which canno t be canvasse d in detail on this occasion . For our purposes , it suf ce s to poin t to a fe w of the problematica l aspect s of this experience. One of the rst points to note is that because of the hegemony of the European concept of nation, it was generall y believe d that nationa l unit y could only be promoted if al l the people of the give n ex-colonia l territor y spoke the sam e language . Thi s had the paradoxica l resul t that the former colonia l languag e (usuall y English , Frenc h or Portuguese ) was declare d the sol e of cial languag e as well as the main , or even the only, languag e of teaching , tuition or trainin g in the educationa l system . Thi s fact, in turn, had as an unintende d consequenc e— if we vie w the issu e fro m the perspectiv e of the consciousnes s of most of the leader s of the independenc e or liberatio n movement— the marginalisatio n of the vas t majorit y of the indigenou s people . The economic an d ideologica l reason s for thi s categorica l decisio n are wel l known and I shal l not discus s the m in detail . It suf ce s to point to the convenienc e factor , sinc e the aspirin g middle clas s in al l of these state s had, in most cases , an adequat e leve l of pro cienc y in the language(s ) of power suc h that they coul d continue governin g the territorie s concerne d by using the existin g mechanism s and institution s which, naturally , were base d on the dominance of the colonia l lan- guage . Linked to thi s— an d the phenomenon represent s a kind of bridg e betwee n innocence an d complicit y— is the fact that under the circumstanc e of post-colonia l rule , pro ciency in the ex-colonia l language s became a key to acces s to socia l status , politica l power an d economic advantage . 4 Also, there was the ver y rea l proble m of resource s in the short term , especiall y sinc e the of cialisatio n or eve n the prioritisa - tion of any one languag e in the extremel y plurilingua l countries of Africa woul d in most case s have le d to resistanc e by those linguisti c communities whos e language s had not bee n thus treated . With ver y fe w exceptions (especiall y Tanzani a and Somalia) , no Africa n languag e was ever give n the high statu s that was automaticall y accorded the ex-colonia l languages . 5 Another are a in whic h nation-buildin g project s in the rest of Afric a tended to overcompensat e was that of ethnic relations . In most of the countries , usuall y as the resul t of colonia l policy (se e Curtin et al ., 1981: 575– 592), one or other ethni c community was dominant and in all such cases , there was, especiall y in the rst years , a tendency to ensure that al l the majo r groups wer e represente d in parliamen t as wel l as in the executive. Again, thi s was explicabl e in terms of the nee d to minimis e separatis t tendencies, but in fac t the polic y entrenche d ethnic, i.e. ‘ tribal ’ , consciousness . It le d to what John Saul calle d ‘ the dialecti c of clas s and tribe ’

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which, among other things , saw the demoralisin g phenomenon of ‘ elections ’, whic h were no more than ethnic censuses .

Faultline s of th e Ne w Sout h Africa

Sout h Africa differe d from other Africa n countries in certai n decisiv e respects . Th e obviou s salienc e of the racia l questio n made it very different from the res t of Africa wit h the exception of settle r colonial territorie s suc h as Namibi a and Rhodesia. ‘ Race ’ assume d the sam e signi cance in Sout h Africa as ‘ethnicity ’ (or ‘tribe ’) had in other Africa n countries . As long as segregatio n an d aparthei d insiste d on ethni c

an d racia l discrimination , most of the people , thinkin g of themselve s as so-calle d

racia l groups , intuitivel y oppose d the form s of oppressio n that resulte d from thes e policies . That is to say , the y necessaril y fought for improvement s in their conditions of lif e on the basi s of the very socia l categories , which the rulin g ideolog y had inscribe d in their consciousnes s through the manne r in which the societ y had bee n structure d in orde r to promote the economic and socia l interest s of the rulers . Th e

ambivalenc e an d uidity of the situatio n is manifes t in the fac t that while they assume d these racia l identitie s as ‘natural ’, the y were als o open to bein g mobilise d to rejec t notions of ‘race ’ and ethnicity , whic h were (and are) so obviousl y tie d to their oppression . This explain s both the tenacit y of the four-nation s paradigm , whic h continue s to shap e the consciousnes s of most Sout h Africans , an d the sometimes desperat e clingin g to a ‘non-racial ’ visio n of the future whic h has bee n the hallmar k of the liberatio n movement. In this, leavin g asid e man y problematica l

an d polemica l issues , the people were give n a rm lea d by the leadershi p of the

liberatio n organisations , al l of whom had bee n reare d in the universalisti c ambienc e

of Christianity , Islam and Marxism .

The racia l cast e syste m— whic h is what we are dealin g wit h at the leve l of socia l psychology— has particula r consequence s that exacerbat e the problem of promoting

a sense of nationa l unity. The syste m itsel f derive s fro m the historica l realit y of

interdependent groups of peopl e who wer e integrate d into the economic, speci call y the labour , processe s of the evolvin g capitalis t syste m in suc h a manner that the one coul d not, and cannot yet, do without the other . Archbishop Tutu’ s mythica l ‘ rainbo w nation’ is , thus, a brav e attempt to make a virtu e out of necessity . As such , it can, in my opinion, be abuse d in order to x foreve r the sense of colour or ‘ race ’ that divide s one group of people from another. Of course, the man at Bishopscour t never intende d that we shoul d become a natio n of hyphenate d Sout h Africans , where the word in front of the hyphen is alway s a racia l epithe t suc h as ‘ black’, ‘ white ’, ‘coloured ’ or ‘Indian’ . Thi s las t term als o serve s to revea l the short jum p fro m colou r to other socia l marker s suc h as language , religion , regio n or ‘ culture ’. This is the reaso n why I believ e that this US-American metaphor will do more harm than good . Already , we have a whol e range of so-calle d Khoi groups , each representin g a mere handful of people, coming out of the woodwork in orde r to clai m a place in the sunny new Sout h Afric a for the ethni c entrepreneur s who ar e drivin g them. The recen t and continuin g discussion s abou t the prevalenc e of racism , racia l prejudic e and racial discriminatio n in the new South Africa , if the y show nothin g else , demonstrat e the urgent nee d to introduce a new discours e concomitant wit h radica l change s in the ways in which wealt h and resource s are distribute d in thi s country.

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In orde r to conside r thi s matter carefully , it is necessar y to look at som e of the change s in our conceptualisatio n of South Africa n societ y that have bee n propose d by scholar s in the post-aparthei d debates. In the compendium edited by Liebenberg an d Rhoodie, a scathin g attac k on ‘ the fuzz y notion of “non-racialism ”’ is launche d by Kierin O’Malle y (1994: 77– 88) who draws attention to the philistinis m and the opportunis m of Sout h Africa n intellectuals . He mentions the absur d fact , inter alia , that ‘ … (a) number of former Afrikane r nationalist s have apparentl y been able to become African nationalist s without so much as a backgroun d glance ’ (O’Malley , 1994: 78). Usin g the spectre of Hanf ’s Jacobi n nation-building / socia l engineering , O’Malle y warns agains t the consequences of ignorin g the ethnic factor. Even though his portraya l of actual and putativ e nation-buildin g project s is a caricatur e and not derive d fro m any systemati c texts, as when he suggest s that the present ruler s want to eradicat e ‘ all extant cultura l and ethni c sentiment ’ and ‘their replacemen t by a new uni ed and culturall y uniform “Nation”’ , his basi c critiqu e of recent radica l scholarshi p in Sout h Africa is valid . He adopt s Horowitz ’ s vie w that Wester n scholarshi p is hel d in thral l by a pervasiv e bias agains t ascriptiv e socia l phenomena an d that thi s tendency is exacerbate d in Sout h Africa by the hegemony of the neo-Marxis t paradig m (se e O’Malley , 1994: 81–82). His articl e is a thorough-goin g interrogatio n of the consistenc y an d bona des of the new-found non-racia l discours e among both Afrikane r and Africa n nationalists . Whereas , in his view, the latte r are deluding themselve s in believin g that socia l phenomena like ethnic groups are non-existent or irrelevant , the forme r are disingenuousl y incantatin g the mantra of non-racialis m in their pursui t of a double agenda involvin g the permanent retention of a shar e of power by the minorit y as a group. His plea is for the

recognitio n of the tenacit y of ‘ethnicity ’ and for the factorin g in of thi s elemen t int o an y equation for guidin g the nation-buildin g project .

A simila r attac k was launched in 1994 by Ran Greenstei n on the neglec t of ‘race ’ ,

whic h he call s ‘the exclude d presence’. As agains t the neo-Marxis t tendency to dismis s race ‘ as littl e other than a perniciou s way for making invidiou s distinction s among peopl e in order to facilitat e clas s exploitatio n and politica l oppression ’ ,

Greenstei n (1994: 3) aver s that

rac e can an d frequentl y doe s becom e an af rmativ e principl e underlyin g individua l an d collectiv e identities, partiall y overlappin g an d partiall y competin g wit h other foci of identit y .

Essentially , his articl e is a polemic agains t dogmatic ‘Marxist ’ and other reduc- tionis t approache s to the study of ideolog y an d identity . As such, it is without any doubt a timely and most appropriat e challeng e to the hubris of close d paradigmati c blueprints . His challeng e to the notion that the dominan t ideas of an epoch ar e the ideas of the dominan t class(es ) is a useful reminder that subalter n groups co-determine the terrai n on which ideolog y takes shape. It does not, as I have alread y intimated , weaken the thrust of Marx ’s aphorism .

It is necessar y at this stag e to re ec t on O’Malley ’ s and Greenstein ’s allegation s

as far as radica l scholarshi p in Sout h Africa is concerned. There is no doubt that the y have pointe d to the spo t where the dog lie s buried. Apartheid itsel f and the fear of bein g ngere d as an apologis t for that syste m certainl y made mos t left-incline d academic s eithe r deny the ontologica l status of phenomena such as ‘ethnic groups ’ ,

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‘ races ’, etc . or at best eschew these social-scienc e themes altogether . Al l of us have in one degree or another been ‘guilty ’ of this. However , I believ e that O’Malle y overkills . Certainly , as one of those who consistently , in my capacit y as an activis t helping to form the ideolog y of the liberatio n movement, i.e . as an organi c intellectual , undermine d an d put in question the relevanc e and validit y of incipien t ethni c and racia l formations , I at all time s acknowledge d the potential for mobilis - atio n on this basi s especiall y once the aparthei d laws would have been repeale d (se e Nosizwe, 1979: 173–180; Alexander, 1989: 126– 153, 1986: 84– 87, 1999: 211– 226). Moreover , the recognitio n that all human beings are involve d in a hierarch y of multiple identitie s is the dialectica l answe r to the either – or approac h to the question of collective identitie s in practice . In my own writing , I have consistentl y use d the metaphor of overlappin g concentric circle s at the centre of eac h of which stands the individual . As in a Ven n diagra m (Alexander, 1994), the spac e that indicate s the ‘ union’ of x number of individual s delimit s a potential collectiv e identity . This ‘ space’ can be ‘ described ’ in principl e by any marker of social differenc e suc h as

language , religion , region , etc. , and ‘awaits ’ particula r condition s to be ‘ lled’ by the relevan t peopl e mobilise d by the activist s who wis h to further thos e interest s that stand to gai n by the occupation of this space. Be that as it may; the kind of critiqu e expresse d by O’Malle y does not dig dee p enough. It rest s its case at the point of rei catio n of the socia l phenomena whos e ontologica l status is being questioned . Whil e such rei ed entitie s (‘races ’ , ‘ethni c groups ’ , ‘ cultures ’ etc.) have a phenomenal relevanc e under certai n circumstances ,

a historica l sociolog y that is by de nition concerned with change canno t stop there .

I believ e that it is essential if we are not to get trapped in unnecessar y dilemmas ,

that we move in the directio n of a thorough exploratio n of something lik e Davi d Bohm’ s (1980) holisti c analytica l framewor k whic h he call s the rheomode . This exploration , i.e . searc h for a new languag e wit h whic h to comprehend the realitie s we construct an d reconstruct , would involv e us in considerin g these constructs as phenomena whic h are, under certai n condition s (what are these?), experienced or live d by people as things or de nable entities and under other conditions , for example , at moments of accelerate d social change , as a ux or a process , an unstabl e and stormy movement in which new potential identitie s beckon to the individua l like havens of security . In my view, this approac h woul d represen t an attemp t to shif t the frontier s of sociologica l inquir y in the directio n of understandin g the socia l implication s of the new order whic h the advance s in the mathematica l an d physica l science s in the twentiet h century have generated . Beside s enablin g us to transcen d the limitation s of the ‘ Cartesia n order’ , such a new languag e should make it possibl e to combine in a mutually enrichin g manner the advantage s of positivis t an d Marxis t proce- dures. It als o get s us away from the vacuous dogmatis m of unchangeabl e and unchangin g paradigm s in the directio n of a science of praxi s whose purpose and outcome is the generatio n of hypothese s or of an unending serie s of proposal s withou t in an y way leadin g to socia l paralysis . I want to come back to the relationshi p between socia l identitie s and the distributio n of the socia l product . What we refe r to as ‘race ’ is, in our context, and in most others , alway s a matte r of both ‘race ’ and class . That is to say , the realit y of social inequality , which is based on obvious disparitie s of wealth an d power between the differen t socia l groups , identi ed as ‘ races ’, has to be changed radicall y

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in orde r to brin g abou t the conditions in which consciousnes s of ‘ race ’ can change . It is not enough that we tackle the proble m at the superstructura l leve l by advocatin g changes in the ways in which we perceiv e and refer to one another. This is essentia l— an d our schoolin g syste m as wel l as our medi a are failin g us for a rang e of contradictor y reason s in thi s vital respec t— but it has to be accompanie d by visibl e shift s in acces s to an d distributio n of materia l resource s and opportuni- ties. In regar d to the latte r aspec t of the problem, I believ e that most peopl e on the lef t of the politica l spectrum agre e that the economic policie s adopte d by the two post-aparthei d administrations , whether because they thought they had no alterna - tive or because some of the m at leas t neve r thought beyond the attainmen t of the non-racia l franchis e and, thus, actuall y had no alternativ e plans , have entrenche d both clas s and racia l division s in our society . For , it is eviden t beyon d disput e that the fe w hundre d aspirin g capitalis t entrepreneur s among the blac k bene ciarie s of these policie s are unable to change the colou r coding programme d int o the mode of production and of distributio n that we cal l racial capitalism . The thousands of young black peopl e who, like thei r Afrikaner predecessors , are now beginnin g to occupy som e of the important as well as all the unimportant posts in the civi l servic e and in the of ce s of big business , besides demonstratin g the embourgeoise - ment of decisiv e layer s of our societ y and the degree to whic h it is becoming Americanised , constitut e the socia l base of rainbowism . It woul d be reasonabl e to say that give n the very short period of post-aparthei d rule, there is a certai n measur e of non-racial consciousnes s and a self-eviden t patriotis m that has come int o being among what we may loosel y refer to as the middl e classes . Patriotis m is displayed , as in other countrie s today, mainly in such area s as internationa l sport an d cultura l competitions. Thes e area s are , notoriously , trainin g grounds for the inculcatio n of nationa l chauvinism , which transform s the playfulnes s of sportin g events into the seriou s con ic t of wars . Indeed, judgin g by the ease wit h whic h many Sout h African s have slippe d into xenophobi c behaviour , nationa l chauvinis m is laten t among al l strat a of the society . This is a matte r that has to be deal t wit h urgentl y at all social and politica l levels . Freedom of movement for people seeking work and / or securit y has to be viewed in exactl y the sam e manner as the freedom for capita l and trade good s to ow acros s stat e borders . Sout h Africans , who have so much to be thankful for to neighbourin g state s in respec t of the attainmen t of the present democrati c system , have to nd the imaginatio n and the courag e to set an example in this globall y relevan t area . Relativ e consensus among the middle classe s shoul d not delude us into believin g that there are no area s of tension and contradictio n among these sectors . On the contrary , the often ham- sted manne r in whic h af rmativ e action programme s ar e operationalise d by both the publi c and the privat e sectors have alread y give n ris e to dis gurin g con ict s and are programmin g some reall y unwelcome feature s int o the socia l psycholog y of the new Sout h Africa suc h as the widesprea d perception that the black peopl e who ar e assumin g manageria l and other top administrativ e position s are incompetent and worthy of no more than token of ce. Such percep- tions, which are ofte n justi ed, le t it be noted, merely deepen and perpetuat e racialis t attitudes and behaviour . Instea d of the overtl y race-base d af rmativ e action programme s (an d I concede, of course, that they cannot alway s be avoided) , there are many different criteri a that

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can and should be used legitimatel y in orde r to reduc e or to eliminat e the historica l disadvantage s of the raciall y oppresse d sectors of our society . Among these , the most important ar e language , class , or income , and gender. Another important criterio n in South Africa is the prioritisatio n of the rural , as opposed to the urban . Finally , the promotio n of nationa l unit y through the identi cation and realisatio n of signi cant nationa l projects about which ther e is nationa l consensus (jobs, AIDS, houses, for example ) is the concrete strateg y for the nation-buildin g project. This presuppose s a functional democrati c state . Unlike many other analyst s and com- mentators , I tak e a sanguin e vie w of thi s particula r aspec t of the new Sout h Africa . Democrac y has to be ensure d in this country by the normativ e commitment of the politica l clas s to a libera l democrati c polity . In that regard , we have reaso n to be sceptica l sinc e both the major partie s to the negotiations , to put it mildly , do not have an unsullie d record in this matter. However , I believe that the socia l pluralis m an d the interdependenc e of Sout h Africa n societ y constitut e the rea l bedrock on whic h democrati c practice s and tradition s are being built at the southern ti p of the Africa n continent .


1 Lecture delivered at the Universit y of Cap e Town’s Summer School on 22 Januar y 2001.

2 Concepts of the nation base d on what is called ‘community of culture’ and ‘community of language ’ are widely held throughout the world. It would be simplistic to deny the social realit y of such constructs under particular historical conditions. However , on this occasion , I have to desis t from discussing these approaches . Elsewher e (among others, Nosizwe, 1979; Alexander, 1986, 1989, 1999, 2000), I have discussed this complex of issue s in some detail .

3 It ought to be obvious that the (democratic) legitimacy of al l the white minority an d white supremacist government s since 1910 was rejecte d by al l organisations of the oppressed. Even collaborationist blacks wer e compelled to commit themselves rhetoricall y to the ‘struggle ’ for a non-racial franchise.

4 See Alexandre (1972: 86).

5 Amharic, in Ethiopia, had a status among most of the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea not unlike that of Afrikaan s among black people in South Africa . I trea t this aspect of the languag e question in detai l in Alexander (2000).


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A LEXANDER , N. (1989) Languag e Polic y an d Nationa l Unit y in Sout h Africa / Azani a (Cape Town, Buchu Books).

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