Keyword: traditional authorities

Al Jazeera on Xhosa Circumcision Custom: 'Ndiyindoda - I am a man'

Picture credit: As seen on Al Jazeera Video There are 10 million Xhosa people in South Africa amongst whom many tribal customs remain strong. Every year thousands of teenage boys from the Xhosa tribe undergo a ritual circumcision, which according to ancient custom, will make them men. But there are growing concerns about circumcision ceremonies. In the past 10 years, more than 500 boys have lost their lives, while hundreds more have been mutilated. Despite its dangers, the practice shows no sign of abating due to peer and family...

Cultural Revolution: Liberating Zuma and His Cohorts

Picture credit: GovernmentZA/flickr Mandisi Majavu - For a man who spent ten years on Robben Island fighting against a white supremacist apartheid regime, President Jacob Zuma comes across as seriously ill equipped when talking about issues related to race and culture. Generally speaking, his views on race and culture are primitive. Recently he’s been quoted in the media as having said, “Spending money on buying a dog, taking it to the vet and for walks belonged to white culture and was not the African way.” Granted he...

Locusts on the Horizon

Picture credit: balazsgardi/Flickr Richard Pithouse - Taking over a mode of rule is not the same thing as transforming it. Barack Obama is not George Bush but that fact makes little difference to the bankers looking for a public subsidy or a wedding party in Pakistan at the moment when a drone rushes out of the sky. Time and again governments that have come to power on the tide of popular resistance to  oppressive systems have ended up reinscribing central aspects of the systems they had opposed. It's easy enough to imagine that on the...

Rural Local Government at the Crossroads

Picture credit: Sideshow_NYC Stephen Greenberg - Local government is the interface between the state and citizens in any country. In rural South Africa, this interface is extremely weak as a result of the power of sectional interests and a local government system that reinforces accountability to party rather than constituency. The lack of legitimacy and responsiveness of local government was a weak point under apartheid, and the widespread struggle for democratic local representation was one of the most important factors in the downfall...