1st Edition

The Contested Idea of South Africa

Edited By Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Busani Ngcaweni Copyright 2022
    346 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    346 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book reflects on the complex and contested idea of South Africa, drawing on a wide range of disciplinary perspectives.

    Ever since the delineation of South Africa as a country, the many diverse groups of people contained within its borders have struggled to translate a mere geographical description into the identity of a people. Today the new struggles ‘for South Africa’ and ‘to become South African’ are inextricably intertwined with complex challenges of transformation, xenophobia, claims of reverse racism, social justice, economic justice, service delivery, and the resurgent decolonization struggles reverberating inside the universities. This book covers the genealogy of the idea of South Africa, exploring how the country has been conceived of by a broad group of actors, including the British, Afrikaners, diverse African nationalist traditions, and new formations such as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Black First Land First (BLF), and student formations (Rhodes Must Fall & Fees Must Fall). Over the course of the book, a broad range of themes are covered, including identity formation, modernity, race, ethnicity, indigeneity, autochthony, land, gender, intellectual traditions, poetics of South Africanness, language, popular culture, truth and reconciliation, and national development planning.

    Concluding with important reflections on how a colonial imaginary can be changed into a free and inclusive postcolonial nation-state, this book will be an important read for Africanist researchers from across the humanities and social sciences.

    Foreword  Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, SC Part 1: Major Debates on the Contested Idea of South Africa  Chapter 1 Introduction: Why is the Idea of South Africa Contested, Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Busani Ngcaweni  Chapter 2 The Idea of South Africa: Opening the Pandora’s Box  Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni  Chapter 3 Towards a Closer Union: Race, Citizenship and the Contested Idea of South Africa Bongani Ngqulunga  Chapter 4 In Search of Indigeneity: Autochthony, the Colonial Construction of Identity and the Politics of Post-Apartheid Ethnicity Tlhabane Dan Motaung  Chapter 5 The Foundations of South African Modernity Kenneth Tafira  Part 2: The Idea of South Africa in Intellectaul Imaginations  Chapter 6 The Intellectual Sigularity of H.I.E. Dhlomo in the Evolution of the Idea of South Africa Ntongela Masilela  Chapter 7 Mafeje and Magubane: Two Concepts of the ‘African Revolution’ Bongani Nyoka  Chapter 8 Achille Mbembe on the Idea of South Africa Tendayi Sithole  Chapter 9 Prose and Poetry: Shining Light on the Popular Imagination of the Idea of South Africa Athol Williams  PART THREE: On Spatial Justice and Land Reform  Chapter 10: Ideologies, Discourses and Vectors of African Urbanism in the Making of South African Cities Mfaniseni Fana Sihlongonyane Saka Langwenya   Chapter 11: Land Expropriation with Compensation: A Case of Social Justice? Muxe Nkondo  Chapter 12: The Idea of a ‘Rainbow Nation’ and the Persistence of Agrarian Injustices in Post-Apartheid South Africa Grasian Mkodzongi and Clemence Rusenga  Chapter 13: Theorising Ethnic Nationalism within the KZN Rural Land Tenure Debate Fundi Skweyiya  PART FOUR: Social Cohesion and its Discontents  Chapter 14: The Question of Coloniality of Gender in the ‘New’ South Africa Akhona Nkenkana  Chapter 15: Ethinicity and Politics of Belonging in South Africa: The Case of the Ndebele Identity Sifiso Ndlovu  Chapter 16: Negotiating Meaningful Citizenship in the Zone of Exclusion: The Impact of Racism on Belonging in the New South Africa Kgabo Morifi and Malaika Lesego Samora Mahlatsi  Chapter 17: The NDP and the Idea of South Africa: Incongruities and Prospects for Social Inclusion Busani Ngcaweni and Anver Saloojee






    Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni is Professor and Chair of Epistemologies of the Global South at the University of Bayreuth in Germany and Visiting Research Fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Johannesburg. 

    Busani Ngcaweni is Director-General of the National School of Government, Visiting Adjunct Professor at the Wits School of Governance, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg and Visiting Adjunct Professor at Soochow University in China.

    "This is a powerful compilation of perspectives that explores the complexities of South Africa. South Africa has a contested history, which exists in tandem with the deep fissures still present in society and a host of new dynamics to navigate. The Contested Idea of South Africa analyses these complexities through a critical lens and provides a valuable contribution to understanding the transformation to a post-colonial state and the struggles that inevitably arise from this. The contributions traverse the genealogy of South Africa, the various actors who have conceptualised the current notion of South Africa alongside concepts such as race, ethnicity, gender amongst others. This book is an important reflection on forging an identity within the confines of a contested state while positing tangible solutions."— Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Johannesburg


    "This book is a timely scholarly contribution that illuminates the formation of racial identities as imagined communities in South Africa and dissects the role of ideas, intellectuals, and social movements in shaping or disrupting the project of identity formation. These collected essays are set against the conceptual frames of decoloniality. The authors place the idea of a South African nation under critical scrutiny, especially in light of the continuing patterns of white privilege and black cultural and economic exclusion." – Professor Mzukisi Qobo, Head: Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand

    "This book covers voluminous research with painstakingly presented factual, historical, imagistic and poetic ideation on the complex subject of the contestations on the idea of the identity of South Africa and being South African. It debates, questions and examines with patience the myriad topic of overlapping histories whose prism-centre is hinged on colonialism, dispossession, liberation, identity and self-definition.

    In a four-part structure the complex themes and the proponents of the ideas that have defined South Africa’s being, the book displays some of the delicate subjects like ongoing colonialism of the "white"stans which was predicated on the colonial framework of divide, conquer by killing and stealing and self-appropriate to create the Bantustan ideology; it brings to the fore issues of the Tutu-Rainbow Nation and the Mbeki African Renaissance—which all point to the complex multifaceted idea of what we call South Africa as it encapsulates race, culture, ethnicity, language, knowledge, class, gender and generation spatial identity; cultural expression as an identity marker.

    This book faithfully reflects the subject of identity and idea of South Africa as a complex amalgam of multidimensional themes. The skill of bringing together such talent and depth of research is laudable. This is worth a read."Professor Zodwa Motsa, University of South Africa