Strategies of representation in tsitsikamma fingo/mfengu land restitution claims

Jannecke C. (2008)


This article provides a perspective on contemporary community formations of the Tsitsikamma Fingo/Mfengu peoples around their claims of entitlement to land made during the 1990s. The state dispossessed four Fingo/Mfengu communities of land in the Tsitsikamma district of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa during 1977. It forcefully resettled them at Elukhanyweni in the Keiskammahoek district of the Ciskei. After years of relocation, the dispossessed Tsitsikamma peoples had formed new connections and associations. This article seeks to show how the formation of a unified contemporary Tsitsikamma Fingo/Mfengu ethnic community mobilised around the demand for land restitution during the 1990s. The article discusses some of the representational strategies used that gave meaning to the belonging to and membership of community. It examines created narratives of origin, foundational myths, and invented traditions around grave-cleaning rituals that contributed to the construction of a contemporary community. Representations of identity typically ignore and repress internal differences within community. The article shows that after the restoration of rights in land, dissonance within the reconstituted contemporary Fingo/Mfengu community became more visible, destabilising its constructed unity. © Unisa Press.

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