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Negotiating the boundary : the response of Kwa Mashu Zionists to a volatile political climate.

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Previous studies have demonstrated that Zulu Zionists remained peace-loving and politically quiescent in times of racial segregation and political injustice. Since then the political situation in South Africa has shifted dramatically and, despite the dismantling of apartheid structures and the unbanning of major Black political organisations, political violence and instability have becomethe order of the day. The main concern of this dissertation was therefore to explore the response of Zulu Zionists in Kwa Mashu to such a volatile political climate and to ascertain whether they can uphold their reputed apolitical attitude. It emerged from fieldwork, conducted in Kwa Mashu, Durban, over a period of 22 months, that their social boundaries, group cohesiveness and religious identity are threatened by the negative side-effects of an increased politicisation. Like their fellow township dwellers, Kwa Mashu Zionists are expected to take sides and are exposed to political propaganda and intimidation. Young Zionists, in particular, are prone to violate the apolitical stance of their church, for they are not only marginalized within their congregations but they are also the main object of political pressure and recruitment. However, it was found that the majority of Zionists successfully resisted being drawn completely into political participation and insisted on the retention of their religious values. Those who choose political partisanship defend their religious convictions and hold out against taking part in violent political competition. To counteract the intrusion of politically related damage and to prevent their youth from religious alienation, Zionists no longer exclusively emphasise the negative implications of politics but acknowledge the inevitability of being conscious about it. Zionists thereby reach an acceptable definition of politics which does not endanger group-cohesiveness and does little harm to their social boundaries. The conclusion reached in this study is that Kwa Mashu Zionists confront the encroachment of politics by transforming it into a harmless form of political consciousness. In this form Zionists can assimilate politics and employ it as an instrument for achieving their goals in the upliftment of the economic poor and the socially disadvantaged.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1993.


Zionist churches (Africa)--KwaZulu-Natal--Kwamashu., Kwamashu (KwaZulu-Natal)--Religion., Kwamashu (KwaZulu-Natal)--Politics and government., Theses--Anthropology.