oa Alternation - Identikit: The Politics of Critical Thought1

Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



One of the key outcomes of education is hoped to be the production of critical thinkers. What forces and choices shape the identity of the critical intellectual? As a way of approaching this question I would like to begin by recalling the work of one of South Africa's celebrated critical intellectuals; Govan Mbeki's study, South Africa: The Peasants' Revolt (1964). Mbeki's strong identification with the Transkeian peasants and his outrage at the imposition of tribalism on South Africa is submerged into a clinical critique of the socio-economic realities of the Transkei, the show-piece of the Bantustan scheme. In his dissection of the fraud of separate development, Mbeki analyses apartheid ethnicity as retribalisation, and cultural identity as the means of 'divide and rule'. This attempt to seduce Africans with the re-emergence of pre-colonial identities is, he argued, a gross distortion of reality.

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