James, Deborah Ann
Kinship and land in an inter-ethnic rural community.
Masters thesis, University of Witwatersrand.
This dissertation is a study of the way in which ethnicity shapes various
aspects of the life of a Lebowa vi11age. Differing histories as labour
tenants on the white farms of the south-eastern Transvaal have determined
differing access to agricultural resources for Pedi and Ndebele when they
left the farms for their present home in the village of Morotse. In the
contemporary setting, these rural assets are combined with the migrant
remittances which have become indispensable to the survival of any
household in the southern African reserve areas. Again, the resulting
combined packages of resources are distributed unequally between the two
ethnic groups. Corresponding to this relative poverty or prosperity, a
range, of household types has evolved, with a broad contrast between a
Pedi and an Ndebele type. The practice of inheritance also manifests a
contrast between the two ethnic groups.
At times, ethnicity is manifest not simply in different aspects of social
structure, but in more overt conflict. I describe an occasion on which
ethnic hostility was expressed - relating to the use of agricultural land
- and in conclusion attempt to explain the existence of ethnicity in the
village in the light of some recent literature on the topic. I argue
that, in general, ethnicity must be understood in the light of competition
over scarce resources in the contemporary ttHomelandtt context. In addition,
the particularly strong ethnicity apparent in the Ndebele village
section I explain by reference to the history of chiefly authority in
the community, and to the observance of particular marriage rules. My
final explanation thus invokes the events of recent history and the
circumstances of the present.
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