Identity, Community and Land Claims
Now that difference is no longer legislated in South Africa it is increasingly thrust to the fore in people’s lived experiences. South Africans “on the ground” often construct their strategies and realities within the affinities of “group” – sociocultural or otherwise. They are seemingly, encouraged or sanctioned or underpinned by explicit allowances in the South African Constitution. However, the new politics of identity, though rooted in claims of autochthony and ancestral lands, operate in fluid frontier zone-like conditions in which identities are often situational and are manipulated. This paper examines the context and strategies of the people of Kutama, in the far northern South African province of Limpopo. Defeated in war in 1898, their land alienated, their leaders in exile or incarcerated, they were eventually allowed to return to designated “locations”. Formalised by the 1913 “Land Act”, these areas were more often than not limited in extent, not particularly well endowed ecologically and also not necessarily the original lands of their forefathers. The Kutamas have now initiated a concerted process to regain what they regard as their land. Their case has again brought to the fore the fact that place should be conceptualised as more than a physical setting or passive target for primordial sentiments of attachment. Places are politicised, socioculturally relative, historically specific, local and multiple constructions. Place hence features prominently in a form of ethnicity and the assertion of locality can be a manner of political activism.
Keywords: Identity, Community, Land Claims, Kutama, South Africa
Prof. Mike De Jongh
Chair of Department, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of South Africa
High School Teacher (Victoria Park, Port Elizabeth); Junior Lecturer, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer; (UPE/Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University); Assistant Lecturer and Researcher (University of Florida, USA); Doctoral student (University of Florida, USA); Visiting professor (University of South Florida, USA); Professor of Anthropology (Unisa, 1985 - ); Foreign Faculty Adviser (University of Minnesota, USA); HOD/COD, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology (also, at times of Philosophy and Geography and Environmental Studies); Acting Deputy Dean and Dean (Unisa – Faculty of Arts).
Publications and Conference Presentations:
• Research reports – 20, five of which have been published in book form and one which contributed to the Draft White Paper on Traditional Leadership and Governance (Department of Provincial and Local Government, 2003)
• Articles and chapters in books – 51 in all, 23 in accredited journals
• Conference papers presented – 32, 15 of which in international forums.
• “Award of Recognition and Appreciation for the Promotion and Enhancement of Anthropology in Africa over the Last Decade (Pan African Anthropological Association).
• National Research Foundation Internationally Rated Researcher
• Listed in the Cambridge Blue Book of Foremost International Scientists (International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England)
• Rural: Xhosa-speaking people (Eastern Cape); Northern Sotho- and Venda-speaking people (Limpopo); Griqua and Karretjie People (Northern Cape): Tsonga-Shangaan (Mpumalanga).
• Urban: Kwazakhele, New Brighton (Nelson Mandela Metropole); Botleng, Kwa Guqa, Evaton, Wesselton, Tsakane (Gauteng).
• International: Mozambican refugees; Hei!um (San/Bushmen, Namibia); Tsigane (Gypsies, Switzerland)
• Commissioned: Township/local authorities (Local Government); Draft White Paper on Traditional Leadership and Governance (Provincial and Local Government); South African Sociocultural Diversity (Home Affairs).