Cultural forms and literacy as resources for political mobilisation: A.M. Malivha and the Zoutpansberg Balemi Association 1939-1944

One of the enduring questions of South African political life is why certain organizations at particular points attract popular support. In examining this issue, relatively few analysts have paid detailed attention to cultural aspects. They have tended to focus on such themes as the processes of forced removal, land dispossession and community destruction in explaining popular responses to political mobilization. This essay looks at how ideas about these processes are communicated by organizations and their leaders. It examines issues like the language and style of mobilization, and the methods as well as the media of communication used. It considers these issues by looking at the case of the Zoutpansberg Balemi Association (ZBA), an organization which emerged in the 1930s and continued in the 1940s. The ZBA relied on cultural forms of communication such as public meetings, traditional beer workparties, compulsory meetings called at a chief’s residence, oral messengers, and the newspaper ‘Inkululeko’, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of South Africa. The central concern of the essay is to examine ways in which these media helped mobilize support for the ZBA. The essay opens with a brief history of the ZBA and its leader, A.M. Malivha, who played a key role in its evolution. It goes on to consider the existing forms of communication into which the ZBA tapped, and, finally, analyses the style and content of ‘Inkululeko’. Ref.

Title: Cultural forms and literacy as resources for political mobilisation: A.M. Malivha and the Zoutpansberg Balemi Association 1939-1944
Author: Nemutanzhela, Thiathu J.
Year: 1993
Periodical: African Studies
Volume: 52
Issue: 1
Pages: 89-102
Language: English
Geographic term: South Africa
External link: https://doi.org/10.1080/00020189308707769
Abstract: One of the enduring questions of South African political life is why certain organizations at particular points attract popular support. In examining this issue, relatively few analysts have paid detailed attention to cultural aspects. They have tended to focus on such themes as the processes of forced removal, land dispossession and community destruction in explaining popular responses to political mobilization. This essay looks at how ideas about these processes are communicated by organizations and their leaders. It examines issues like the language and style of mobilization, and the methods as well as the media of communication used. It considers these issues by looking at the case of the Zoutpansberg Balemi Association (ZBA), an organization which emerged in the 1930s and continued in the 1940s. The ZBA relied on cultural forms of communication such as public meetings, traditional beer workparties, compulsory meetings called at a chief’s residence, oral messengers, and the newspaper ‘Inkululeko’, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of South Africa. The central concern of the essay is to examine ways in which these media helped mobilize support for the ZBA. The essay opens with a brief history of the ZBA and its leader, A.M. Malivha, who played a key role in its evolution. It goes on to consider the existing forms of communication into which the ZBA tapped, and, finally, analyses the style and content of ‘Inkululeko’. Ref.