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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'We must now go back to our history': retraditionalisation in a Northern Province chieftaincy
Author:Oomen, BarbaraISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Politics and Government
History and Exploration
External link:http://ejournals.ebsco.com/direct.asp?ArticleID=46488E4028079817B971
Abstract:Debates over value and meaning of culture, tradition and tribalism have continued to shape local politics in the new postapartheid South Africa, particularly in the former homelands. This article describes the changing position of traditional authority in the chieftaincy of Mamone in the Northern Province. Here the installation of a new chief in 1998 led to a vigorous discussion on the role of traditional authority in land allocation, local government and dispute settlement. In portraying the Mamone case this article seeks to detect whether retraditionalization is merely a resonance of decades of State reinforcement of traditional leadership and customary law, or a locally-driven postapartheid search for identity. It is argued that the way in which tradition takes shape is as much a result of local agency as of nationally imposed institutions. The Mamone case demonstrates that no clear distinction between outside influences and internal dynamics can be made. One reason for the continuation of traditional authority is the weakness of other institutions. Unclear signals sent out from the national level create an atmosphere in which ethnic entrepreneurs can revamp traditional authority. Policymakers should take into account the diversity both between and within traditional authorities, as well as their own role in the construction of traditional authority. Bibliogr., notes, ref.