Identity In South Africa
Shikaya and Facing History and Ourselves
Identity in South Africa: African and Afrikaner Nationalism
The second of the Facing the Past seminar series explored issues of identity and nationalisms in South Africa in relation of African and Afrikaner nationalism. This was a significant day for the seminar as it was the opening of parliament and in the evening the President gave his annual state of the nation address!
The session began with creating individual identity charts. In the feedback the aspects of individual identity that could be linked to nationalism were highlighted. Participants then created identity charts for South Africa. There was intense debate during the feedback as we grappled with the broad concept of nationalism as well as what might constitute South African nationalism.
The discussions highlighted the complexities of the concept of nationalism, particularly when coming to grips with nationalisms within a country. While the curriculum directs us to engage with positive and negative aspects of nationalism, there was a feeling that nationalism can never be positive. Some of the questions and issues that emerged were:
- Is there ever a moment in the development of nationalism in any context in which nationalism could be considered to be positive?
- Could it be said that nationalism was positive when it rallied the British to the cause of a War against Hitler??
- Or positive when it helped construct Afrikaner identity in response to British colonialism and defeat in ‘the War’??
- Or the development of African nationalism in response to colonialism and apartheid???
- Is it inevitable that nationalism becomes destructive to others??
- What is the difference between patriotism and nationalism??
- Can we have a nationalism located in African tradition, in ubuntu, that accepts diversity and is inclusive – an interesting thought!
The discussion was rounded off by reading an extract from an article by Katy Hughes, ‘What is nationalism?’ http://katy-hughes.suite101.com/what-is-nationalism-a53052. The extract concluded with these words: Even nationalists cannot agree on exactly what constitutes nationalism, as beyond this shared desire for the success of the nation, they have very little in common.’
” Very useful- information was relevant it brought some light of how to tackle the question of nationalism on looking at the negativity as well as the positivity of it. How it was presented was so well and I got a lot of support.”
” The seminar has helped me in preparation on how you tackle the complexity of such themes”
” I found it useful, especially because I was forced to think about an issue I thought I knew: Nationalsim”
” It was relevant because the concept of nationalism has been unpacked with is complexities.”