Marikana shootings symptomatic of SA’s gun culture

The only shocking detail of the shootings at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana was the number of victims (34 deaths and many injured within minutes) but certainly not the incident itself. The shootings and the associated deaths of police officers and protesters are symptomatic of South Africa’s deep-rooted problem of violence, in particular firearm-related murders. The shootings, while shocking, are not entirely surprising in a country where millions of guns are illegally acquired and owned. Continue reading


Marikana killings: new South Africa’s revisit of the apartheid era

Last Thursday (16/8/2012) post-apartheid South Africa and the international community witnessed perhaps the worst state sanctioned violence against citizens when the police indiscriminately fired live ammunition on hundreds of striking mine workers at the London-listed Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana near Johannesburg. The event had the hallmark of the apartheid era; poor black miners protesting against low wages and poor living conditions. Continue reading

Making the Mthwakazi national identity great again

Mthwakazi is a complex social environment in which national identity finds itself under pressure from other forms of individuals’ self-categorisation. Emerson (1959) defines a nation as a ‘community of people who feel that they belong together in the double sense that they share deeply significant elements of a heritage and that they have a common destiny for the future’ (Emerson, 1959, p 59).

Continue reading

The intrinsic value of a collective Mthwakazi social identity

If ethnic diversity is the greatest social resource to grace Mthwakazi, ethnic multiplicity and the accompanying ethnic flexibility is – according to some Mthwakazians – the curse that threatens the social fabric and the very existence and/ or the maintenance of a substantive Mthwakazi social group identity. Ethnic identity reflects the attitudes or emotional significance people attach to their social group (common nationality or culture) (Phinney, 1990); it is based on cultural traditions, norms and values transmitted across generations. The question has to be asked, in the face of Mthwakazi’s social fluidity, what values make an individual Mthwakazian and how much in terms of norms and values has been retained from the previous generations and how much attachment do Mthwakazians place on being Mthwakazi citizens and/ or descendents? Continue reading