Monday, September 12, 2005

SRC Handover Speech

Handover Address by Nyiko Floyd Shivambu
SRC President 2004/5
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
12 September 2005

Vice Chancellor the 12th of September marks a very important day in the history of South Africa and the South African student activism. Today marks exactly 28 years, of apartheid police operations assassination of one of the most prominent student leaders in the history of South Africa. Steve Biko, the first President of the South African Students’ Organisation was assassinated on the 12th of September 1977, for upholding and promoting the ideas he held about the then South Africa and what could be the future South Africa. Contrary to popular convictions, Biko believed in the creation of a non-racial and egalitarian society, where all citizens would enjoy political and economic freedom. To apartheid racism, Biko counterpoised black solidarity, with the belief rather, that ultimately; a synthesis of an anti-racist and non-racial society will ultimately be conceived.

If Biko’s cowardly assassination had not happened, he would be amongst those in South Africa today, who would express concerns about the transformation pace and rate of historically white institutions of Higher Learning in South Africa. Biko believed that higher education should response directly to the needs of society within which it exists. His belief of being a member of the broader community before being a student led to so many practical programmes and projects that sought to better the lives of South African citizens, particularly those that were socially and economically excluded and alienated from their own surrounding. Biko would have most certainly agreed with the sentiments of Kanye West on the protracted response of US administration to the destructions of Hurricane Katrina in the Mexican Gulf Sate of Louisiana, in particular the city of New Orleans.

In that fortitude, Vice Chancellor, allow me to send our sincere greetings to newly elected members of the SRC and once again congratulate them for their historic victory, and all protocol observed. The SRC President is likely to agree with me that our systems of ideas and thoughts and scientific discoveries have proven to be ineffective in addressing the most ardent of challenges in the 21st century. Our social sciences have not helped us to understand and curb the fatal conflicts and confrontations that continue to characterise Africa. Our climatology did not help in understanding the climatic changes in New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina hit thus destroying infrastructure and lives. In Mozambique and Northern Limpopo in year 2000, floods eroded not only the mud houses within which majority of residents thereon reside, but thousands of lives of our fellow Africans and citizens. In Indonesia, our understanding of tectonic forces in the ocean and sea did not help us to timely predict the massive destruction of Tsunami. Our engagement with cultural, international, religious and political relations and studies and our studies of diplomacy continue to fail us in combating terrorism and alleged counter-terrorism in the world.

Let me lower the scale to Wits University, since I am aware that “We are dealing with student politics here, not a national agenda. We are here to study, not to pursue a higher political motive” as one of the current SRC members was quoted as saying in the Mail & Guardian.

My personal observation of interrelations between the progressive student movement and senior management at Wits is different from what I used to believe. I presently believe that since the 2004 April student protests, distrust and mistrust have defined how progressive students relate to senior management and other sectors. This reality has largely influenced how the 2004/5 SRC related to senior management and other offices in the University. Perceptions and misperceptions were developed, maintained and sustained and continue to define our relations. I think and believe that such reality was and is a very regrettable and undesirable phenomenon, mostly that our SRC as well as Senior Management did not handle differences of opinions in a manner which we should have handled them.

We nevertheless are still at Wits University, and as far as I know, most of the 2004/5 SRC have committed themselves to continue with student leadership roles elsewhere, than in the SRC. For instance, the former SRC secretary is currently Careers Officer of the Law Students Council and the former Entrepreneurial Development Officer is currently and paradoxically a deputy chairperson of the Young Communist League in campus. I therefore hope and believe that relations should be mended for the cohesion of Wits University as a community. I do not believe that we all wish to see a fragmented Wits University in terms of vision, strategic beliefs and understandings. We cannot continue to disagree on everything, every time and everywhere. In fact we do not necessarily disagree on everything, we just have to discover or uncover our areas of consensus and agreement. I hope that the new SRC and Management will vicariously learn from what were differences and conflictual relations in the past.

However, I believe part of the approach adopted by our SRC (2004/5 SRC) was influenced by objective factors in the University. I totally agree with the late Sam Nothsulungu who was a very vocal political analyst on student activism during SASO and NUSAS era. He said in 1983 that “the revolutionary significance of a political movement, whatever its class character, is not determined solely by its own internal characteristics (programmes and ideologies), but also by the nature of the political terrain and the effects of that terrain on its political practice”. Whilst our SRC’s programmes and sets of beliefs could have been determinant of the decisions and actions we took, the political terrain we existed in largely compelled us to respond in a particular way and format.

Whatever will be, I assure the SRC Secretary that the political terrain which you currently exist in will determine some of the decisions to be yet taken by the incumbent SRC.

Perhaps lessons should be drawn by the current SRC from one of the most progressive student movements in South Africa, the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS), which the current Dean of Commerce, Law and Management was Secretary General of in 1979. A document written by two presidents of NUSAS between 1983 and 1986 (Kate Philip (NUSAS president 1983/84) and Brendan Barry (NUSAS president 1985/86) acknowledged that “While most organisations build their membership by organising directly around the interests of their members, the historical challenge for NUSAS was to organise white students to take a stand that appeared contrary to their interests: to recognise that the white minority privileges they enjoyed as a result of apartheid were unjust and unjustifiable, and to ally themselves with the forces for democracy in South Africa”. Indeed this was a heroic and exceptional role played by a student movement in South Africa.
Challenges of access still confront the higher education landscape in the country and there should be a collective response to such phenomenon. I personally do not hold any student leader in high regard, who refuses to acknowledge that Wits University does not exist within a vacuum.
We would like to wish the new SRC good luck and a prosperous year. And to the out-gone SRC, Bravo! I hope and believe that as responsible leaders, you will continue to lead within various structures and systems in the University and elsewhere.
Thank You

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Challenges for Access and Equity in South African Higher Education
Nyiko Floyd Shivambu
The concepts ‘access’ and ‘equity’ are widespread and recurrent in pronouncements and policy contents of the South African Higher Education sector. Certainly, these concepts connect all higher education stakeholders in the recognition that total emancipation of and social transformation of South Africa and Africa calls for access and equity, most specifically for communities that are previously disadvantaged. Nonetheless, it remains debatable whether these concepts’ ubiquitous use in Higher Education have influenced and/or heralded the sought and relevant policy options and implementation, adherent to and needed for the broader South African transformation trajectory. The political angles, ideologies and/or perspectives from which different commentators perceive South African Higher Education can be the only determinants of the effectiveness, usefulness and relevance of policy options that arose from these Higher Education buzzwords, viz. Access and Equity.Considerate of this reality, the below discussion is aimed at outlining and assessing challenges for Access and Equity in South African Higher Education and/or Higher Education in South Africa. Given the context within which the challenges for access and equity are raised, it will first be important to reflect on the historical character of higher education in South Africa to provide the basis of discussion. This is mainly because the challenges that confront Higher Education in South African are atavistic remnants from the country’s socio-political history, thus rendering access and equity in many sectors to be reactive and redress policy guidelines.Whilst the discussion will thematically focus on access and equity challenges in higher education, it is important to highlight that access and equity should be discussed within the broader transformation trajectory of Higher Education in the country. The paper will move on to discuss contemporary challenges and responses in Higher Education in South Africa. Although recognising the fact that much has been said around higher education, the paper will provide suggestions on how some of the identified challenges should be addressed.

Historical Overview
It is vital to acknowledge that commonly, the relationship between higher education and ideology reflects the nature and level of class contradictions in society. The history of education struggle in South Africa serves as a testimony to the class contestation of higher learning institutions. The then apartheid regime systematically applied racist, supremacist policies in education system for class and racial privilege and benefits of certain individuals and groups.In the early twentieth century, the twin concerns of the South African state were guaranteeing capital accumulation based on cheap unskilled labour and consolidating the structures of white political domination and privilege[1]. Consequently, training and education of blacks was not priority. This largely informed the segregationist education policy, institutionalised in the political and social spheres of apartheid and colonial society. Practically, apartheid education policy meant, inter alia, limited funding and access, and inadequate provision of education and training facilities for blacks and Africans in particular[2].Throughout colonial/apartheid period, social relations in South Africa continued to be fundamentally structured along lines of race, class and gender, whilst shaped by the articulation of racism, capitalism and patriarchy. It is however important to note that whilst the ideology of racism and racial prejudice were predominant in determining social relations in South African society, the various changing historical forms of national oppression and racism in South Africa are organically linked with and have provided the fundamental basis for the development of a capitalist economy[3]. This confirms countless other observations made about colonial and apartheid domination in South Africa. Joe Slovo once presaged that ‘for all the overt signs of race as the mechanism of domination, the legal and institutional domination of the white minority over the black majority has its origins in, and is perpetuated by economic exploitation[4]’.

This form of racial and class oppression and exploitation determined all spheres of South African society, access to education included. Earlier, blacks were only instrumental to colonial/apartheid state economic objectives through provision of cheap unskilled labour. That is why by 1948; black University students numbered 950, a mere 4.6% of total enrolments in South African Universities
[5]. This was to be altered consequent of changing economic demands and socio-economic realities that came to characterise South African society, during and post colonial/apartheid rule.

Adjacent and complimentary to economic exploitation in colonial and apartheid South Africa was patriarchy. In the broader South African society, patriarchy entrenched gender inequalities, with little regard of race and class. This terrible reality was based on a variety of factors, with culture, tradition and religion being predominant factors. As a result, women occupied subordinate positions within South African society and specifically with regard to access and opportunity in the economic, political and educational spheres
[6]. It is not an overstatement that this reality continues to haunt the South Africa society, 11 years after democratic dispensation.

Whilst patriarchal relations defined colonial/apartheid society, black women were severely under-represented in institutions of higher learning. In 1960, women constituted 11,3% of total black enrolments, in 1970 18,9% and in 1975 21,6%
[7]. However, the proportions of women enrolled in institutions designated for blacks were higher than for the sector as a whole. Accordingly, in black institutions of higher learning, black female enrolments by 1960 were marginally greater (13,1%) than when considered across the University sector in its entirety[8]. In post colonial/apartheid South Africa, female enrolments have significantly increased, and substantial limitations around that will be discussed below.

Following the 1959 Extension of University Education Act, racial and ethnic higher education institutions were established. These institutions were designated for blacks and deliberately located in impoverished rural areas with limited social infrastructure and amenities
[9]. Notably, these institutions were located in areas removed from the political militancy and influences of large cities.

The establishment of racial and ethnic higher education institutions heralded an upsurge in enrolments and access of black students to post secondary education. For instance, ‘enrolments in Universities rose by almost 400% between 1960 and 1965, doubled over the next five years, and increased by more than 100% between 1970 and 1976
[10]’. Access was facilitated inter alia by low fees, state bursaries and loans, and the provision of numerous diploma courses requiring only a senior certificate[11].

The growth of Higher Education sector and black enrolments during that period was due to a variety of factors. Amongst these factors was the growth and expansion of primary and secondary education
[12]. Most significantly, the expansion of the manufacturing industry and the service sector, and the introduction of capital-intensive technology, required large numbers of black workers who were semi-skilled and possessed more than just minimal elementary education[13]. Besides, the racial division of labour was modified to accommodate this new reality. Although flexibility and adjustments were dictated by economic imperatives, education policy continued to be aimed at the goal of separate development[14].

South African apartheid government’s determination on separate development concerning education policy is evident when looking at the provision of pre higher education system. The system was increasingly and more tightly tied to the Bantustan civil service, since these territories were given self-governing status, including control over education
[15]. Evidently, access of black students to higher education was heightened not because the apartheid state was keen on the development of African communities and society, but because they aimed at entrenching apartheid domination and economic exploitation.

Another important historical fact, which continues to haunt South African higher education, is black enrolments and access to historically white institutions. Apartheid State policy, applied especially in the case of African students, was aimed at directing black students to the black H.E institutions or the University of South Africa (UNISA)
[16]. However, this began to change from the late 1960s.

Post apartheid Higher Education

As has been illustrated above, higher education access was extensively shaped by the socio-economic and political priorities of the apartheid separate development programme. After the democratic dispensation, higher education have been fundamentally altered and aimed at addressing and responding to South African developmental needs, whilst ensuring that apartheid socio-political setbacks are redressed. In his assessment of Higher Education goals, policy initiatives and critical challenges & issues, Saleem Badat argues that the needs of a democratic South Africa are “crystallised in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), as fourfold commitments: first, ‘meeting basic needs of people’; second, ‘developing our human resources’; third, ‘building the economy’; and fourth ‘democratising the state and society’”
[17]. South African higher education is predicated to produce both qualitative and quantitative skills and knowledge to the South African unequal, yet growing economy.

There is an acknowledgment nevertheless, that the identified roles ought to happen within a global economy, which is increasingly dependent on knowledge and information. The Higher Education White paper acknowledge that globalisation, and integration into the global economy, and neo-liberalism as the dominant ideology of globalisation, are highly unlikely to enable South Africa to achieve ‘economic reconstruction, political democratisation, development, and redistributive social policies aimed at equity

Whilst these are hypothetically the aims of higher education in South Africa, based on the conceptualisation of the development framework (RDP) South African adopted in 1994, questions still arise as to whether presently; the South African government has placed higher education access and equity as one of its urgent priorities. The shift from the developmental RDP to market orientated Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy has somehow confused socio-economic roles the state has to spearhead in the South African transitional and developmental trajectory. A replacement of a developmental policy with an economic strategy would surely mesmerise South African priorities and strategies in terms of redress and equity challenges; more especially that the latter was not satisfactorily discussed with important role players in the South African transition, notably labour and civil society. This somehow explains the chopping and changing which has characterised Higher Education strategies and approaches on funding and enrolments over the last 11 years.

Achievements and progressive developments in the Higher Education sector since democratic dispensation cannot be underplayed whatsoever. The post apartheid state has significantly contributed in meeting access and equity challenges that confronted the country during the earlier period of democratic transition. The deracialisation of the student body is a factor worth celebrating and appreciating, since it has been the embodiment of equity in South African higher education. The proportion of black students in total university increased from 32% in 1990 to 60% in 2000, while in Technikons (presently known as Universities of Technology) it rose from 32% to 72% over the same period
[19]. It is instructive to note that equity growth was however not complimented by sufficient growth in general student numbers. In the eight years after 1994, higher education enrolments had only grown by 74, 000 or 13%[20]. This was mainly due to the productivity of the school system.

Moreover, gender equity improved in higher education between 1993 and 2000
[21]. Whereas in 1993, 43% of students were female, their proportion increased to 53% in 2000[22]. The changes in gender and racial students enrolments, however did not translate into equity in the distribution of female and black students across academic programmes, as well as at higher levels of post-graduate training. Black and specifically female students tend to be clustered in the humanities, and thereof remain under-represented in science, engineering, technology and business management[23].

Despite this reality, throughput and graduation rates of black students have not improved
[24]. It is disheartening, since access without success is simply no access. This is recurrently blamed on poor pre higher education schooling, insufficient and/or ineffective academic development programmes, and most essentially, funding. For instance, a survey of students who were academically in good standing, but dropped out, in the University of the Western Cape (UWC), indicated that 10% said that they would register at another institution and 86% indicated that they did not return for financial reasons[25]. A Telephone survey at the Port Elizabeth Technikon revealed a similar trend[26]. This raises questions around the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) at institutional levels. Certainly, NSFAS has significantly contributed to equity and redress factors in the Higher Education sector, yet its effectiveness should not be measured on mere statistics, but vis-à-vis its optimal capacity to contribute

Quality Higher Education?

Whilst equity challenges are being met, there is a view, which contends that ‘an exclusive concentration on the issue of equity/redress can lead to its unadulterated privileging at the expense of quality, which could result in compromising the goal of producing high quality graduates with the requisite knowledge, competencies and skills
[27]’. Conversely, ‘an exclusive focus on quality and standards can result in equity being retarded or delayed and therefore no or limited erosion of the racial and gender character of the high level occupational structure[28]’. The Department of Education as part of its objectives of the recently proposed Student Enrolment Planning in Higher Education (SEPHE), stated the need ‘to enhance quality, in particular, throughout and graduation rates[29].

The Student Consultative Conference on the formation of a single union of students in South Africa, which was convened in November/December 2004 at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; extensively discussed the concept of ‘quality higher education’ and the proposed SEPHE. Central to questions raised were the systems, approaches and barometers used to measure higher education quality in South Africa, since its responsiveness to societal needs leaves a lot to be desired.

South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world, with almost half of the population unemployed and/or leaving in absolute poverty, and youth unemployment rate almost at 60%
[30]. With this reality, the effectiveness of South African higher education in meeting developmental challenges is highly questionable. This is not to suggest whatsoever that higher education should be fully responsible for creation of employment opportunities and addressing these socio-economic realities. It is to suggest although, that the quality of higher in South African is hollow and annulled. Students continue to be educated and socialised in the higher education system to seek individual solutions to collective challenges of society. This is a fundamental weakness of the whole access and equity rhetoric in higher education, since its objectives and outcomes in society are not instantly recognizable.

There is currently no or ineffective programme on curriculum review to respond to South African specific needs and challenges, such as underdevelopment, poverty, unemployment and HIV/AIDS. Documents emanating from the Ministries of Education, Labour, and Trade and Industry, and recently the Presidential Working Group on Higher Education express concern about the shortage of high-level personnel shortage due to the small intake of students in a number of important fields
[31]. On the other hand, there is the inadequacy of new and recently employed graduates to respond to demands of changing economy and society[32]. Government, the public service and the private sector are increasingly questioning the quality of recruits from Universities and Technikons, the nature and appropriateness of their qualifications and training and the international competitiveness of graduates in some fields[33]. Most certainly, this is a worrying factor, which vulgarises and defeats access and equity in South African higher education.

Student Enrolment Planning in Higher Education

The Student Enrolment Planning in Public Higher Education document argues that ‘the higher education system has grown more rapidly than the available resources
[34]’. This, the enrolment planning or ‘capping’ paper believes has placed severe pressure on institutional infrastructure, personnel, thus compromising the ability of Higher Education institutions to discharge their teaching and research mandate[35]. The SEPHE document then asserts that such ‘cannot continue if the Higher Education system is to contribute to the national development agenda through its role in the generation, transmission and application of knowledge in general and human resource development in particular[36]’. Consequently, SEPHE’s main goal is to ensure that student enrolments are matched with available resources[37]. Nonetheless, the practical reality of this has been reduction of student numbers in Higher Learning institutions, specifically non-paying students, starting from 2005.

The conclusions and/or pre-conclusions of the ‘capping’ strategy have proven to be very dangerous in that its core argument narrows success rates and quality to infrastructural and personnel capacity within institutions of higher learning.

Many in the Higher Education sector, notably student leaders can bear testimony to the fact that growth in enrolment numbers is not the factor and/or not the only factor, which curtails institutions to discharge their teaching and research mandate. A variety of other factors, including institutional cultures, poor pre higher education schooling, insufficient and ineffective academic support programmes are but some of the main factors, and conspicuously a response to this will require more than a mere ‘capping’ of enrolments. There should be a comprehensive strategy to address these challenges, since a narrowed ‘capping’ of enrolments will serve to undo the equity and redress achievements registered since 1994, due to institutional cultures, which elsewhere prefer a slower or no transformation pace in regard to racial and class demographics within institutions of higher learning.

Besides, the growth of the higher education sector, specifically enrolments was heralded by the DoE’s framework on Higher Education funding, which prescribed that higher education institutions should be funded in regard to the number of black students enrolled. The shift of the funding framework to release funds for higher education institutions in relation to their throughput and success rates has been a setback for certain institutions, since black students’ enrolment, was no longer a profitable phenomenon, with the painful reality that black students’ success rates are lower than those of their racial counterparts. Coupled with SEPHE, the new Higher Education funding framework only served to curtail the number of black students’ access and success in the South African higher education.

It is instructive to note that the department’s ‘capping’ strategy resulted from a very inorganic process, which centred on interaction between the DoE bureaucrats and institutional senior managers, without a broader and inclusive consultative and research process, which would have culminated in well-founded and comprehensive conclusions and propositions to address the challenges as confronting the Higher education sector. Instead, the department ‘analysed the HEMIS data submissions of each institution for the years 2000 to 2003; met with representatives of each institution (not Student Leaders) to discuss planning parameters; made proposals on parameters; and invited institutions to make submissions on the proposed parameters
[38]’. That is how the SEPHE was conceived, without involvement of student leadership, a comprehensive research and at least advice from the Council on Higher Education (CHE), and other important stakeholders.

If not fundamentally revisited and revised, the ‘capping’ strategy will most certainly and regressively curtail access, equity and redress in the South African higher education system. Resulting from institutional autonomy and academic freedom, and socio-political factors of H.E institutions, access and equity can be dealt a serious and heavy blow. For instance, Wits University reduced the intake of first year students on financial aid (mostly black and African) to 200 in 2005 from the ranges of 1500 to 2000 students in each of the previous four to five years. And prime to institutional management’s justifications was the SEPHE directives and parameters given to the University in 2004.

It is perplexing since the other important stakeholder in Higher Education, i.e. institutional senior management as represented by Higher Education South Africa (HESA), has not shown utmost agreement with or adherence to SEPHE proposals, yet it is purported that the core of its proposals were discussed with institutions of higher learning. HESA argued correctly that ‘SEPHE constitutes a one-dimensional concept of enrolment planning, that is a function, principally of funding—Medium Term Expenditure Patterns (MTEF) considerations
[39]’. HESA stated that if this intervention (SEPHE) takes place in isolation from other crucial interventions such as funding support, a more functional schooling and diversely expanded Further Education and Training (FET) sector to provide for other post schooling exit alternatives to learners and interventions to address throughput rates, the SEPHE would have limited impact[40]. This is very correct and bluntly put, SEPHE is a wrong instrument at a wrong moment and place and ought to be fundamentally revised.

Moreover, HESA argues in corroboration of what have been cited above that ‘the massive growth in enrolment of post-school leavers in higher education since this period is partly a consequence of these policies which were fully embraced by the sector as necessary, but which now, in the view of government, have come to exert unsustainable pressure on the fiscus
[41]’. Importantly, HESA raises concerns on whether government or the state should be limiting enrolments when South Africa has a relatively moderate participation rate, especially in relation to international levels of participation in higher education[42]. This argument is valid in that it calls upon the state to consider alternate solutions to the challenges that confront the higher education sector, particularly addressing the infrastructural and personnel capacity and resources, which SEPHE argues does not match current enrolments.

Autonomy and Academic Freedom

In South African Higher Education, academic freedom is understood within the context of T.B.Davie formula (“our freedom from external interference in (a) who shall teach, (b) what we teach, (c) how we teach, and (d) whom we teach”)
[43]. The Higher Education White Paper of 1997 defined institutional autonomy as ‘high degree of self-regulation and administrative independence with respect to student admissions, curriculum, methods of teaching and assessment, research, establishment of academic regulations and the internal management of resources generated from private and public sources[44]’. The White paper goes further to explicate that ‘there is no moral basis for using the principle of institutional autonomy as a pretext for resisting democratic change or in defence of mismanagement[45]’.

Now, the State accords absolute self-governing authority to higher education institutions, yet binding them to democratic principles and correct management on moral basis. It is not an overstatement that whilst academic freedom is a constitutional principle and a pillar of our young democracy, it has been practically used for regressive purposes and outcomes in the South African Higher education transformation trajectory. Whilst discussions are undergoing on monitoring and evaluation of institutional adherence to democratic change, government has not played a plausible role in ensuring that institutions are internally transformed concerning institutional cultures, administrative/academic staff demographics and responsiveness to social needs as outlined in the RDP, and White paper objectives for South African higher education.

The reality is that part of apartheid remnants and legacy in Higher Education, are administrative systems, personnel, and ideologies that constituted the backbone of apartheid education policy and social relations. To believe that the ostensible democratic forums and structures (Senate, Council, Forum and SRC) created to run Universities and Universities of Technology will play a redress and equity and/or transformation roles is to be very naive. Councils continue to undermine these other structures and endorse counter development and transformation policies. Councils have been crystallised into ruling and opposing factions and cabals, always embroiled in power brokering and struggles. At times, Councils form unholy alliances with institutional management to take decisions through inappropriate processes, which are not inclusive of relevant and affected stakeholders. Quite providentially, these structures take decisions in full knowledge that anyway they are protected by academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

These structures are somehow complacent in that they are not vigorously monitored and evaluated as to whether they are meeting the challenges they ought to meet, and the fact that the largest stakeholders in higher education, i.e. Students, are qualitatively and quantitatively underrepresented in structures of governance, except Student Representative Councils. This mostly emanates from lack of support, mishandling of continuity processes, denial to access to information and generally capacity to make meaningful contributions in governance structures. SRCs have been reduced to some powerless appendages of Management, and at times used for inappropriate activities.

Evidently, institutional Councils as established by the Higher Education Act have not been complimentary to the transformational and developmental roles, which Higher Education ought to play in the country. They have further not been helpful in assisting access and equity in higher education, since they continuously and at times blindly endorse fee increments; with little consideration of socio-economic impacts to disadvantaged students. There is a need to evaluate and re-asses the continued existence, effectiveness and character of institutional governance structures currently in place. We should begin to ask some of the relevant questions in relation to higher education governance structures. Are Councils correctly formulated and constituted to govern institutions of higher learning? Do we really need SRCs in their current homogenous and sometimes unrepresentative composition and format? How are these structures helping the South African society address developmental and economic challenges we are presently confronting?

It is a well-known reality that South Africa is still in transition from political, economic and social oppression. Higher Education, as has been illustrated above, was one of the tools used to oppress, exclude and exploit the black population in the South African society. Now, after gaining political power and influence, is there a necessity to bestow our trust in apartheid created demographics in institutions of higher learning to independently discharge teaching and research roles, with the hope that they will address the country’s economic and developmental challenges. If apartheid intervened in higher education to ensure that the country’s separate development strategy is fulfilled, what holds the current state from assisting, through intervention, a programme for a correct and necessary socio-economic change. Is academic freedom really in the interests of the South African majority? Surely, there is a need for a certain degree of intervention with the aim to transform, not damage the sector, and observably, the resounding question is how and when?

State and Institutions of Higher Learning

Whilst institutional governance structures have not been useful in pushing the access and equity objective, the DoE and/or State’s role in higher education is indecisive and wishy-washy. Since the democratic dawn, government policy has centred on the importance of transformation and meeting South African challenges and social needs, yet progress is not satisfactory, whilst plausible on certain aspects. Of note shall be the curriculum review necessity, since access to an education that inflicts and instils in young South Africans, ideologies that have helped exploit and oppress the African continent for centuries, is just worthless. The discussion is aware of the ongoing discussion and consultations spearheaded by the CHE on monitoring and evaluation, and equally aware of the fact that much input is being canvassed from sectors, which will conspicuously prefer the status quo.

Supervising of higher education is long overdue and was once hinted on in a discussion paper from the National Commission on Higher Education, which presaged that ‘state sees its task as supervising the higher education system to ensure academic quality and maintain certain level of accountability
[46]’. Whilst this has happened and currently happening through the CHE quality assurance programme, it does not help in addressing the equity and access objectives, and the responsiveness of higher education to societal needs. There is a possibility of a qualitative and accountable higher education, which might remain elitist, and only addressing concerns of the few in society, and that is not what we aim to achieve as a country.

Another important component of state and higher education relations is around funding. As has been hinted above, government opts for ‘capping’ vis-à-vis enhancement of institutional capacity to respond to growing enrolments. Government ought to redouble efforts in higher education funding in ensuring that the sector plays a meaningful role in the broader transformation of the country. Whilst NSFAS contributed significantly to the access of black students and addressing the equity imperative, its operation should be altered, including the release of the long awaited NSFAS review process.

Science, Technology and Engineering

Whilst a significant number of black students have had access to higher education, their access to science, technology and engineering sectors has been comparatively minimal. These sectors are very critical to the transformation, enhancement and harnessing of the South African economy, specifically its continued integration into the global market. Predominantly, this lack of access to the identified sectors is due to poor pre higher education system, which does not sufficiently prepare students from disadvantaged backgrounds (predominantly black) sufficiently for a highly sophisticated higher education.

Access to science, technology and engineering programmes ought to be enhanced through state-led programmes and projects of attracting more black students to the sector. There however must be consideration of the fact that this reality is interlinked with other factors, such as funding of black students and academic support programmes for those who gain access and concomitant realities. Therefore a comprehensive programme should be adopted and/or bolstered (if existent) to respond to this undesirable phenomenon.


Increased Funding

There is undeniably a need to radically increase budget for higher education in South Africa. Presently, education is the biggest budget item on the overall national budget. Yet, skills and knowledge needs of the South African society and economy have not been met, and development should be skills and knowledge driven. Investment in education is very critical, and should be canvassed for, whether through the currently equivocal ‘free education campaign’ or through various other methods. Consensus is that there is a need for heightened expenditure on education, at secondary and higher education level, to balance the knowledge and information gap, which exists between the two. Access and equity will be sufficiently addressed when there are available and quality educational resources for students and society as a whole.

Curriculum Review

This is one of the most important factors regarding access to higher education. As explicated above, access to an education system that does not help address the development challenges faced by the country and continent is fruitless. Substantive policy directions should be conceived and implemented in this regard.

Review of Institutional Governance

Part of the transformation process will at a certain stage; require an assessment and review of institutional governance systems, methods and mechanisms. Conclusively, current systems, methods and mechanisms do not help higher education to respond both the South African social, labour, economic and political needs. This has been illustrated above, and there is a need to re-assess these governance structures.

Strengthening the pre higher education system

A very critical and important instrument in achieving quality higher education will be a very strong pre higher education system. Students should be thoroughly prepared for higher education so as to avoid, inter alia, the massive dropout rates of first year students. A strong and well-focused pre higher education system is vital for the transformation of higher education in South Africa, since it links t issues of throughput and success rates.

Synchronisation of Training and Education in South Africa

Education and Training in South African should be coordinated under a single system. The co-existence of SETAs alongside higher education and FET has proved to be unhelpful in meeting the skills and knowledge needs of society, whilst consuming a big chunk of Skills development budget in the country.

Strengthening the FET sector

As argued above, the FET sector should serve as a training ground for South African broader community. It needs to be strengthened and funding provided for students who opt for that sector, to avoid, inter alia, crowding of higher education. FET remains a critical sector of Skills development, which requires bolstered funding programme.


Some of the existing objectives and policies in the higher education sector are very important and relevant and could assist in the transformation of the sector and society. It is argued that ‘the strengths of South Africa in policy formulation have not necessarily been matched in the crucial arenas of the planning and policy implementation
[47]’. The rhetoric should come to end and the theory put into practice.


The above discussion made attempts to assess the challenges of access and equity in South African higher education. Acknowledging the impossibility of separating these challenges from the broader societal challenges, as informed amongst other things, by South Africa’s colonial/apartheid past, the discussion made reference to critical matters in the H.E sector ranging from governance to funding. The discussion further made recommendations that might help to address some of these challenges.

Conference Paper, and if you have inputs, you can send them through

Reference List

· Badat, S. (1999), Black Student Politics, Higher Education and Apartheid: from SASO to SANSCO, 1968-1990. Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria.
· Cloete, N., Pillay, P., Badat, S., Moja, T., (2004), National Policy & a Regional Response in South African Higher Education, Cape Town, David Phillip
· Department of Bantu Education. (1976) Annual Report, Pretoria, DBE
· Department of Education. (1997), Education White Paper 3: A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education
· Department of Education. (2003). Higher Education Management Information System. Pretoria
· Davies, R. O’Meara, D. & Dlamini, S. (1984. The Struggle for South Africa: A reference guide to Movements, Organisations and Institutions, Volume 1
· Department of Education. (2004). Student Enrolment Planning in Public Higher Education, Pretoria
· Du Toit, A. (2001). Revisiting Academic Freedom in South Africa: Current Issues and Challenges, Commission on Higher Education Transformation (CHET), Cape Town
HESA, Putting a cap on student numbers: Varsity Leaders respond Mail & Guardian August 19 t0 25 2005
Malherbe, E.G. (1977). Education in South Africa, Volume 2: 1923-1975. Johannesburg, Juta
· National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE). (1996). Report: A Framework for Transformation; Pretoria, HSRC Publication
· Slovo, J 'South Africa - No Middle Road', Southern Africa: The New Politics of Revolution, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1976
· University of Western Cape. (1999). A Survey of Non-Returning Students, Cape Town
· Wolpe, H. (1988). Race, Class and Apartheid State. London: UNESCO/James Currey

[1] Badat, S. (1999), Black Student Politics, Higher Education and Apartheid: from SASO to SANSCO, 1968-1990. Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, page 48.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Dvies, R. O’Meara, D. & Dlamini, S. (1984. The Struggle for South Africa: A reference guide to Movements, Organisations and Institutions, Volume 1, page 2
[4] Joe Slovo, 'South Africa - No Middle Road', Southern Africa: The New Politics of Revolution, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1976, p. 118
[5] Malherbe, E.G. (1977). Education in South Africa, Volume 2: 1923-1975. Johannesburg, Juta, page 731
[6] Op Cit, Badat, S. page 56
[7] Ibid, page 70
[8] Department of Bantu Education. (1976) Annual Report, Pretoria, DBE, page 118
[9] Op Cit. Badat, S. page 61
[10] Wolpe, H. (1988). Race, Class and Apartheid State. London: UNESCO/James Currey, page 5.
[11] Op Cit. Badat, S. page 62
[12] Op Cit. Wolpe, H.
[13] Op Cit. Badat, S. page 63
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Cloete, N., Pillay, P., Badat, S., Moja, T., (2004), National Policy & a Regional Response in South African Higher Education, Cape Town, David Phillip, page 3.
[18] Department of Education. (1997), Education White Paper 3: A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education
[19] Op Cit. Cloete, N et al, page 54
[20] Department of Education. (2003). Higher Education Management Information System. Pretoria
[21] Op Cit. Cloete, N et al, page 31
[22] Ibid.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Inid, page 64
[25] University of Western Cape. (1999). A Survey of Non-Returning Students, Cape Town, page 1
[26] Quoted in Op Cit. Cloete, N et al, page 65
[27] Ibid, page 21
[28] Ibid.
[29] Department of Education. (2004). Student Enrolment Planning in Public Higher Education, Pretoria, page 4.
[31] Op Cit, Cloete, N et al, page 34.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Op Cit DoE, SEPHE, page 3
[35] Ibid.
[36] Ibid, page 3
[37] Ibid.
[38] Ibid, page 4-5
[39] HESA, Putting a cap on student numbers: Varsity Leaders respond Mail & Guardian August 19 t0 25 2005, Getting Ahead pullout, page 14.
[40] Ibid.
[41] Ibid.
[42] Ibid, page 15
[43] Du Toit, A. (2001). Revisiting Academic Freedom in South Africa: Current Issues and Challenges, Commission on Higher Education Transformation (CHET), Cape Town, page 2. see
[44] Op Cit, Department of Education. (1997).
[45] Ibid.
[46] National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE). (1996). Report: A Framework for Transformation; Pretoria, HSRC Publications, Section 5.3.
[47] Op Cit, Cloete, N et al, page 42

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Societal Tribalism in South Africa

Nyiko Floyd Shivambu (2003)

Discussion paper prepared for the Inter-varsity seminar at the University of Pretoria in September 2003.

African political leaders, experiencing it as destructive to their ideals of national unity, denounced it passionately. Commentators on the Left, recognizing it as a block to the growth of appropriate class awareness, inveighed against it as a case of 'false consciousness'. Apologists for the South African apartheid system welcoming it as an ally of continued white dominance encouraged it. Development theorists, perceiving it as a check to economic growth, deplored it. Journalists, judging it an adequate explanation for a myriad of otherwise puzzling events, deploy it mercilessly. Political scientists, intrigued by its continuing power, probe at it endlessly. If one disapproves of the phenomenon, 'it' is 'tribalism'; if one is less judgmental; 'it' is 'ethnicity'.

Ethnicity and tribalism are highly charged words in contemporary Africa. The terms are often regarded as an auto-explanation for contemporary political conflict, and their ubiquitous use has led to their vagueness. Thus far historians have not devoted much attention to the history of ethnicity, ethnic particularism and ethnic ideologies in Southern Africa. This is somewhat puzzling; especially as many have been aware for some time that ethnicity is not a natural cultural residue, but a consciously crafted ideological creation. Empirical evidence shows that ethnic consciousness is very much a new phenomenon, an ideological construct, usually of the 20th century, and not an anachronistic cultural artefact from the past
[1]. Devoting wider significance to the ideal or rather fact that tribalism or ethnicity is an ideological construct, this paper is meant to explore the nature of tribal divisions and hatred in South Africa, at a societal level. It should be indicated in the outset that this paper is not scrutinising the supposed ‘tribalism’ within specific institutions and organisations in South Africa, which were poked at as showing tendencies of tribalism.

Tribalism or ethnicity is a central concept in South African politics. It was used by the South African apartheid regime to divide the African population, and by some Bantustan politicians like Lucas Mangope (United Christian Democratic Party), Hudson Ntsanwisi (Ximoko Progressive Party) and Mangosuthu Buthelezi (Inkatha Freedom Party) to mobilise opposition to homeland independence. The late 1980’s and early 1990’s witnessed political bloodshed in South Africa, which were largely along ethnic particularism. The bloody hostilities between the Inkhata Freedom Party and supporters of the African National Congress in that period are but a model of ethnic confrontations in South Africa. Most recently, former Bantustan leaders such as Bantu Holomisa and Lucas Mangope employed ethnicity to mobilise voters for the multiparty political system, which is in place in the current South Africa. This is the phenomenon on which the Inkhata Freedom Party continues to mobilise support in the rural sections of Kwazulu Natal.

It is instructive to note that tribalism or ethnic consciousness in South Africa was fundamentally the idea of white supremacists. The Afrikaner National Party held a more static pluralist view of South Africa as a land inhabited by different peoples, each with its own ethos
[2]. The view of ethnic identity as a natural order, as a remnant or atavistic manifestation of a historically concrete social unity, resulted at the ideological level in federal Bantustan political policies. As early as 1913, a government report considered that “inter-tribal” jealousies have always rendered it possible to protect Europeans by utilising one tribe against another. In 1920, the year of the Witwatersrand mineworkers’ strike, the Native Recruiting Corporation of the Chamber of Mines had expressed the fear that unless conditions on the mines were ameliorated, “the different tribes will become more and more in sympathy with one another, with growing disregard of loyalty to their respective tribal chiefs and a fusion of common interests under the guidance of the educated classes of natives irrespective of tribe or place of origin will result”[3]

The apartheid vision, propounded fully in the 1960’s saw South Africa’s population as divided into a series of ethnic groups. Each ethnic group had or was meant to have its own territory where it would develop its inherent potential and become a sovereign ‘nation’. This ideological vision came to maturity only during Hendricks Verwoerd’s leadership of the National Party. Under Verwoerd onward, the then government fostered ethnic nationalism (in this case, tribalism) to divide the African population. They worked ferociously to sow the seed to hatred, rejection, jealousy and strife amidst the African population in a concurrent suppression of class and national awareness.

On the other hand, we had the National Liberation movement calling for the denial and suppression of ethnic differences in the cause of national unity, and class cohesion beyond race was viewed as a threat to white privileges. Liberation movements such as the African National Congress (ANC), which embraced non-racialism and Black People Convection (BPC), which embraced black consciousness envisaged and strived for this national unity. Yet the apartheid system worked fiercely to sow the seed of tribal hatred, jealousies, and despicable attitudes amidst the black population.

Over and beyond that, the freedom charter, adopted by the Congress of people in Kliptown in 1955, held that: “while we do not encourage tribal pride- in fact we denounce it- we are far from being indifferent to traditions, languages, and culture of individual ethnic groups; we do not propagate ethnic nihilism… Our reality is multi-ethnic society, we respect and strive to develop all local languages and cultures and this help us to combat all forms of reactionary nationalism, chauvinism and ethno-centricity. It also helps us to improve inter-ethnic relations, thus facilitating the drive towards national and social emancipation

The then emerging ethnicity had a contradictory effect on the development of a working class consciousness. While it divided and weakened the labour involvement and cohesion as whole, it strengthened segments of the workforce, for without trade unions to represent their interests; workers often sought political and social solidarity in a shared ethnicity

South Africa, unlike most of the post colonial African states seems to be away from the threat of the scourge of this odious phenomenon, tribalism. Despite dozens of warnings as to a possible threat of tribal hatred in South Africa, the society at large and the authorities in particular are conniving at this issue and its probable plague. There is an unpleasant yet rampant political chicanery employed to obfuscate the issue of tribalism in society and within political organisations.

In his evaluation of the Lessons Learned From the Nigerian civil war, Godfrey Mwakikagile noted: “the Nigerian civil war remind us in a very gruesome way that African countries cannot continue to survive and function as stable political entities if some of their tribes, the very building blocks of a typical African nation, are not guaranteed equal protection and opportunity enjoyed- and some even taken for granted- by members of other ethnic groups.”
[6] It is of no contention that features proscribed and discouraged by Godfrey Mwakikagile above presently typify the South African society. Ethnic groups in South Africa are not guaranteed equal protection and opportunity enjoyed, and most importantly, there are ethnic groups that are taken for granted by members of other ethnic groups. As a consequence we are still far from concluding that South Africa is not under the threat and menace of tribal confrontations and conflicts.

The community at large fails to comprehend and recognize the existence of tribalism in South Africa since it is not mainly an institutional phenomenon, as apartheid racism was. The reason why apartheid was clear to everyone is because it was an institutional phenomenon. Thus tribalism in the current South Africa can be distilled from the society, not necessarily specific legislations or institutes. It is a societal quandary. That might be the reason why it becomes difficult for many in the South African society to diagnose then inveigh against tribalism. This is largely due to general misconceptions as to what tribalism is.

There is a danger in misconstruing or misconceiving the true nature of tribalism in society. Inattention to this phenomenon has led to a misdiagnosis of the true nature of tribalism. It leads to the stifling of mistaken practices or mores, whilst the real culprit is slowly but surely annihilating our society.

The society still ascribes to the belief that satisfaction in one’s language, tribal background and tribal mores is another shape of tribalism. People accept as true that reasserting and conserving one’s unique tribal artefacts, customs, values, norms and notions is another form of tribalism manifestation. Establishments that unite people of common tribal background to unilaterally uplift their unique language, cultural practices and norms are still looked upon as a form of backwardness in the struggle for national unity.

Contrary to almost inherent misconceptions of what tribalism is, it is highly imperative to expound what this writing views tribalism as in South Africa, at a societal level. And imperative as well is a need to expound what tribalism is not.

Reasserting African languages, norms, notions, beliefs, and mores is fundamental to the realisation of the African Renaissance. For Africa to remain African, African languages, norms, mores, cultural practices and beliefs ought to be hoisted and promoted to and in the current African generation. This is highly imperative particularly now that the western world is virtually fully extended to Africa, economically and thereof culturally and socially. Imperialism has not only changed property relations in Africa, but socio-cultural relations. This is not to suggest whatsoever that all socio-cultural practices and norms in Africa are progressive, it is instead an acknowledgment rather that opposition to imperialism should not be solely on economic relations, but on values and practices that are necessary for Africa.

The freedom charter captured the importance of reasserting languages when it noted that: “we are far from being indifferent to traditions, languages, and culture of individual ethnic groups; our reality is a multi-ethnic society, we respect and strive to develop all local languages and cultures and this help us to combat all forms of reactionary nationalism, chauvinism and ethno-centricity.” In the 1960’s, Black Consciousness emphasised the importance of feeling of satisfaction of our own languages, cultures and mores or blackness. In the recent past a Constitution of the Republic was adopted by a democratically elected parliament and inter alia it states: Persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right, with other members of that community ­
1. to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and use their language; and
2. to form, join and maintain cultural, religious and linguistic associations and other organs of civil society. This shows clearly that the Constitution, like the Freedom Charter is far from being indifferent to diverse cultures, traditions and languages. It recognises the need to enjoy and use cultures, languages in diversity.

Marcus Garvey once presaged that, to paraphrase: “a people without knowledge of their history and origin, is like a tree without roots.”
[7] It is essential to understand where we are from so as to understand where we are going. Let Africa be African, let our norms and mores be upheld, let the establishments which nurture African culture be cherished and encouraged, in order to realise the vision and ideal of the African Renaissance.

With all these substantiations, it is now clear that uplifting one’s culture, language and mores is not tribalistic. The society at large must refrain from suppressing and disheartening establishments which uplift cultural practices, norms, notions, mores and African languages. Yet there is an unquestionable need to improve inter-ethnic relations in South Africa.

As reiterated in the above subsections, tribalism is not satisfaction in one’s language and cultural identity. On the contrary, tribalism arises when members of one tribal group perceives itself and acts as if it is better and so deserving of different treatment or preferential treatment. It is a feeling that members of other ethnic groups are of less importance, intellect, capabilities and thinking as compared to those of yours. It is a belief that members of the other tribe are not as good as members of your own tribe. It is an odious appearance of a nefarious ethnocentricity.

Differences of language, or at least dialect, historical traditions, small differences in material culture and cosmology have been transformed into rigid and self-conscious tribal markers, thus propagating stereotypical and at times irrational perceptions of other tribes or ethnic groups. To demystify, tribalism at a societal level may be denoted as some despicable, fallacious and irrational stereotypes the community has consumed as truths on the issue of ethnic differences.

To maintain a sanguine posture, this paper asserts that there are wider possibilities that diverse tribes can co-exist without any form of tribal hatred and jealousies. What has been made can be unmade.

It is instructive to note that ethnic separatism and establishments that would be described in Africa as ‘tribalistic’, are widespread in some of the oldest western states
[8], and that there is no necessary conflict which cannot be overcome in reconciling local cultural, linguistic and historical differences within the structure of the national scale. This resolution certainly cannot be found by ignoring tribal differences; rather, it is essential to understand their historical evolution and meaning. Thus improving the manner in which ethnic groups relate to each other or inter-ethnic relations.

In South Africa, it is beyond doubt that there are minority ethnic groups that are on the receiving end of the despicable stereotypes noted above. These groups are largely looked upon as of sub-standard value, thinking and general capabilities. These stereotypes are perpetuated or intensified by many diverse issues in South Africa. Amongst these is some pathological self-absorption which characterise some elements within the larger ethnic groups in South Africa. This self-absorption makes these elements to believe that they are superior and much important as compared to the minority ethnic groups.
Another reason why these minority groups are on the receiving end of these despicable stereotypes is a perpetual societal conception that they have and will always remain on the margins. It is, at best, a societal illness, which ought to be tackled by tactics and vigour with which racism and some other social intolerance are inveighed against.
Important amidst issues which suppose that these minority groups are of substandard value is the manner in which the minority groups view themselves in the South African society at large. They tend to illustrate that they had been inculcated by the sense of lowliness. This is highly manifested by the manner they interact with members of other ethnic groups. They largely masquerade as if they are not members of their ethnic groups. They conceal their true identity. Some even go to the extent of changing their names, so that they may sound more to be belonging to groupings that are majority in the South African society. To demystify, they take resentment and umbrage to the insults displayed towards them by accepting that sense of lowliness, which is reprehensible and blameworthy. Then it difficult to address these kinds of conducts, particularly that these are psychological attitudes, which the minority ethnic groups adopted because of the stigma plucked on them by the society at large.
I have argued that ethnicity should be seen in processual terms as the historical product of internal colonialism. But it has been stressed that ethnicity should not be seen in simple terms as the response, within South Africa, of a uniform class with identical interests to a situation of core-periphery exploitation and underdevelopment. Ethnicity has emerged out of the acceptance and propagation by various classes of cultural symbols that cut across class barriers and distinguish and unite people as 'Tsonga' ‘Zulu’ Sotho, ‘Venda’ etc. Ethnicity is thus a fluctuating, situational expression of group identity aimed at the achievement of specific political ends. The expression of an ethnic consciousness does not eradicate narrower loyalties to culture and traditional mores; these can coexist with other feelings of class, national or religious consciousness. The individual will adopt, in response to a specific situation, any one of these identities for the purpose of group mobilization. Nor is ethnicity merely a product of Bantustan politics, and it is unlikely that the abandonment of apartheid and the Bantustan system never ended the regional underdevelopment which, through the politicisation of cultural differences, is one of the major causes of ethnic exclusivism.
After outlining the basis and derivation of tribalism in South Africa and some misconceptions around it, this paper recognizes the existence of ethnic consciousness as a real phenomenon which cannot be denied or otherwise wished away in the South African society. Tribalism in South Africa should not be viewed in residual or at best non-transitional terms, but as a phenomenon which will no vanish unless given special attention. Where there is competition for ethnic prestige or for societal standing as a tribal group, and where competing factions are able to stake out their claims in ethnic terms, such rival factions might seize on almost any aspect of language, history, culture or physical type and turn it into the criterion of ethnic difference. The writing subsequently presents a definition of what societal tribalism is not and is, with due reference to the South African context. It encapsulated the manner in which particular ethnic groups are subjected to disgrace in the South African context and the tentative reasons for that. In wrapping up, this writing notes that the African population still have a huge capacity to reconcile past inter-ethnic jealousies then unite, and unity does not mean the absence of differences and diversity.

[1] Vail, Leroy, editor. The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa. London: Currey; 1989, page 3.[2] Ibid, page 34[3] P. Bonner, "The black mineworkers' strike: a preliminary account', in B. Bozzoli, ed., Labour, Townships and Protest (Johannesburg, 1979), pp.287-8[4] Freedom (Kliptown) Charter, p.6. break[5] P. Harris ‘Exclusion, Classification and Internal Colonialism: The emergence of ethnicity among the Tsonga-speakers of South Africa’ in Vail, Leroy, ed, The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa, London: Currey, 1989, page 102. [6] Mwakikagile, Godfrey, Ethnic politics in Kenya and Nigeria, Huntington, NY : Nova Science Publishers, 2001.[7] Discussion forum.[8] For example, Welsh, Friesian and Occitan ethnic consciousness and languages co-exist, occasionally abrasively with the British, Dutch, and French national states respectively. Robert Papstein “From Ethnic Identity to Tribalism: The Upper Zambezi Region of Zambia, 1830–1981, in Vail, Leroy, ed, The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa, London: Currey, 1989, page 388.