oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Culture as a tool of division and oppression: towards a meaningful role for culture and customary law in a united South Africa

Volume 31, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



To many of us one factor emerges as central to and plays a critical role in the search for the social integration process and the promotion and protection of human dignity in South Africa, namely: cultural divergence. Multiculturalism is thus often perceived as enemy number one in South Africa's search for social integration. The aim of this article is to address that issue, focusing on the crucial importance of culture with a view to analysing its impact in South Africa's quest for social integration. It will be argued that South Africa is characterised by serious divergent cultural values which have led to the establishment of a culturally heterogeneous society that the resulting multiculturalism has turned out to be a negatively divisive phenomenon that there is a relationship between culture, customary law and legal pluralism; and that the challenge to social integration and human dignity should, of necessity, take into account issues related to the legal framework within which the process of social transformation should take place; that is, where the role of customary law and legal pluralism comes into focus.

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