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Youth and Identity Politics in South Africa, 1990-94

Youth and Identity Politics in South Africa, 1990-94

Sibusisiwe Nombuso Dlamini
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    Youth and Identity Politics in South Africa, 1990-94
    Book Description:

    Documenting youth participation in the South African anti-apartheid struggle,Youth and Identity Politics in South Africaexamines identity construction and negotiation in the region of KwaZulu/Natal. Based on extensive interviews, Sibusisiwe Nombuso Dlamini presents life stories of survival and identity negotiation in a region and at a time where to be youthful and politically active was to be associated with membership in Nelson Mandela's African National Congress – a potentially dangerous association.

    Zulus are far from being an homogenous group. Dlamini examines the dynamics both of group identification – that of being a young Zulu – and of the differences, both class and regional. Further, she looks at the discourses of participation in the liberation struggle, and how these discourses intersect with KwaZulu/Natal identity and party politics.Youth and Identity Politics in South Africashows how the youth identify variously as fans of jazz or hip-hop who espouse a none-racial national character, as athletes who feel a strong connection to traditional Zulu patriarchy, or in many other social and political subcultures. This is a rich and unprecedented youth-centred ethnography that paints a unique picture of the lives of South African youth.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8377-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    This book encapsulates the different historic socio-cultural practices that have shaped the social identities of youth in South Africa. First coined by Bishop Desmond Tutu, the notion of South Africa as a rainbow nation is now widely used. This rainbow image suggests variety and non-homogeneity of the people who constitute this nation. It is also an image associated with the premise of safety that followed the biblical flood and thus is a symbol of reconciliation following a difficult period. Yet as a physical phenomenon the rainbow is both ephemeral and highly stratified. That is, each colour in the spectrum always...

  5. chapter 2 Methodology
    (pp. 15-30)

    My intended site for data collection had been the townships in Pietermaritzburg, Natal’s provincial capital. This choice had been made for two reasons. First, I had lived and worked in Pietermaritzburg for a number of years before migrating to Canada in 1988. Second, I had returned to Pietermaritzburg to collect data for my master’s thesis for a period of three months in 1989. Based on my experience in this area, I felt that it would be a suitable one to address the central theme in this study: the construction and negotiation of identity at a time of political turmoil.


  6. chapter 3 KwaZulu/Natal: A Historical Overview
    (pp. 31-63)

    In the nineteenth century, colonial forces in this region faced the Zulu kingdom, which was to hold out against colonial and capitalist demands for labour longer than any other in Southern Africa. Because of the nature of the resistance that the Zulu mounted against colonial forces, the imposition of colonial rule in KwaZulu/Natal took a different form from already existing colonial practices. The destruction of the Zulu kingdom by British forces in 1879, and the imposition of indirect rule from that year onwards, did not necessarily mean an end to the struggle against colonialism. Instead, indirect rule created space for...

  7. chapter 4 Townships
    (pp. 64-77)

    ‘Township’ was the name given to areas created as a result of events at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries: the emancipation of slaves in 1833; the discovery of gold, diamonds, and other minerals; and the Land Acts of 1913 and 1936. The emancipation of slaves in 1833 meant that white farmers could no longer rely on a ready supply of forced labour. The development of mining and the growth of industry also led to the demand for cheap labour. Both situations led to a series of land acts which forced blacks into the state...

  8. chapter 5 Setting Out the Tensions: Formal Politics, Cultural Practices, and the Definition of Zulu Identity
    (pp. 78-94)

    An underlying problem that faced individuals in KwaZulu/Natal was the complexity of criteria of identification and the way in which these criteria intersected with formal and interpersonal politics. In other words, the region was marked with tensions that resulted because of the intersection between institutionalized and conventionalized criteria of identity, and the way these criteria were problematically associated with the practices of political organizations, Inkatha and the ANC.

    This chapter outlines four criteria of identification that individuals used to position themselves as Zulu or not Zulu, depending on space and context. It also examines the manner in which these criteria...

  9. chapter 6 Social/Cultural Groups: Tsatsatsa
    (pp. 95-118)

    The emergence of social/cultural groups such astsatsatsa¹ at Umlazi has to be understood against the backdrop, first, of Inkatha control of this township which simultaneously embraced and isolated Zulus from each other; and second, the modification of UDF strategies of resistance against the apartheid state. Historically, tsatsatsa emerged at a crucial period for both the UDF and Inkatha. For Inkatha, this was the period from 1987 to 1989 during which it was forced to give up some geopolitical areas mainly because of the level of resistance it encountered from residents. This resistance was more felt in the townships that...

  10. chapter 7 Tsatsatsa Language, Cultural Practices, and the Politics of Identity
    (pp. 119-144)

    Seven of the ten key participants in the study were students at Umganga High School and six of these seven students were tsatsatsa. One was church-based and the remaining two operated at the margins of tsatsatsa. Umganga needs to be understood against the background of Inkatha control of Umlazi. Like most schools in KwaZulu townships, Umganga was accountable to the KwaZulu Department of Education and Culture (KDEC) and often had to account for the actions of its students and teachers. The principal and his deputies acted as links between the school and the KDEC and were responsible for relating and...

  11. chapter 8 Social Groups: Soccer
    (pp. 145-164)

    Like tsatsatsa, soccer groups need to be understood within the context of the political turmoil that engulfed the townships in the late 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. The individuals who made up the soccer groups that are the subjects of this study were, like those in tsatsatsa, attempting to deal with hardships characteristic of this period. Also, these individuals used soccer as an activity that presented them as responsible members of the community. There were, however, significant characteristics that made the soccer groups different from tsatsatsa and other groups. One feature that distinguished these groups was the fact...

  12. chapter 9 The Example of Ngubo: The Use of Language at Church and School
    (pp. 165-179)

    Like soccer, the church was common in all segments of South African society, playing both a unifying and dividing role. Cochrane (1987) divides the first thirty active years of the church into three periods. The first period, 1903–10 was characterized by the ‘civilizing mission’ in which missionaries viewed Christianity as ‘the abandonment of traditionalism, and education’ (p. 151). During the second period, 1911–20, the church distanced itself from imperial concerns and moved towards social issues, which were, however still secondary to concerns about the ‘cure of the souls.’ The third period, 1921–30, was symbolic of ‘Christian socialism’...

  13. chapter 10 The Struggle over Symbols and the Politics of Identity
    (pp. 180-194)

    The arguments presented in the preceding chapters are about youths’ strategies for dealing with the complex relationship between formal and interpersonal politics, for negotiating and constructing Zulu identity, and for negotiating township life at a time of political reconstruction and transition to independent South Africa. All these strategies challenged the use and interpretation of Zulu history and ethnicity that had been captured and institutionalized by both the South African state and by anti-apartheid organizations. The challenges of history and ethnicity by these youths provide new lenses with which to examine and study issues of identity formation and negotiation in politically...

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 195-200)

    It has been ten years since South Africa was liberated and twelve years since I undertook the study that forms the basis of this book. Because of the violence that marked the period leading up to independence, the period in which this study was conducted, many writers have equated South Africa’s transitional period to a miracle, or have stressed the importance of its lessons (especially those of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee) for other so-called divided societies. The liberation of South Africa in 1994 signalled a new beginning for the country as a whole and for South African youth in...

  15. Appendix: Chronology of Historical Developments
    (pp. 201-204)
  16. Glossary
    (pp. 205-208)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 209-218)
  18. References
    (pp. 219-226)
  19. Index
    (pp. 227-231)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 232-233)