Being Inclusive to Survive in an Ethnic Conflict: The Meaning of ‘Basotho’ for Illegal Squatters in Thaba Nchu, 1970s

By Sayaka Kono, Journal of Southern African Peace and Security Studies
December 31, 2014

Thaba N'chu Mountain. Photo: Graham Maclachlan

Thaba N’chu Mountain. (Photo: Graham Maclachlan.)

In apartheid-era South Africa, ethnicity was an institutionalized concept used by the white minority government to divide diverse, multi-ethnic Africans. It was partly based on language, traditions, or family residence, but was also a social construction meant to facilitate rule. To overcome some of apartheid’s realities, African leaders sought to diminish artificial identities by forming new groups that comingled language, heritage, and more. Such groups were not strictly ethnic and were partly based on values—notably inclusiveness. This strategy proved successful, and offers an interesting case study of coalition building by shifting from ethnic to value-based calls to action.

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Security Topics: Identity Conflict