Sustainability of Koranna Cultural and Political Revival in Heidedal

By Piet Erasmus.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Koranna, one of the original groups of Khoekhoe inhabitants of southern Africa, already lived in the vicinity of Cape Town before the arrival of the first white settlers (in 1652). They had an own culture, language, identity and racial basis. It has been alleged in various academic sources that the Koranna had died out by the 1930s. Colonisation had threatened their nomadic existence of cattle-farming and hunting, while two destructive wars (1868-69 and 1878-79) against colonial oppressors had left them leaderless. Intermarriage, evangelisation, capitalisation (the discovery of diamonds in 1869-71 created a need for cheap labour at the diggings) and apartheid destroyed the tribal structures, cohesion and identity of the Koranna. According to the Population Registration Act of 1950, all South Africans who were not white or black were regarded as “coloureds”. This was the umbrella concept for the “residue” – those who did not fit in anywhere else. The Koranna, like other Khoekhoe groups, were stigmatised as “coloureds”; and they were politically, socially and economically pressured to renounce their origins. Constitutional accommodation and recognition have been accorded to the Khoekhoe by the current post-apartheid government. This contribution will focus on the Koranna in Heidedal in the Free State – on the regeneration of their structures, culture and identity, as well as on the factors that are exercising a negative effect on the sustainability of their revival.

Keywords: History, Revival, Sustainability

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.269-282. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.181MB).

Prof. Piet Erasmus

Head of Department, Anthropology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa

I am professor in Anthropology. In addition to my teaching and research obligations, I also serve as the Programme Director for Culture Studies and BA Studies; is responsible for the Faculty of Humanity’s Community Service; is the Interim Cluster Coordinator for the multidisciplinary research cluster “Transformation in Highly Diverse Societies” and is the head of the Unit for Khoekhoe and San Studies. Some of my key areas of interest are identity discourse, cultural and ethnic revitalisation, and land issues.


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