n African Journal of Rhetoric - Rainbow on a paper sky : fault Lines on post-racial rhetoric in South Africa

Volume 10 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


Like most sustainable entities on earth – be they countries or organisations – South Africa is underpinned by a number of foundational myths. Myths are the fuel that keep organisations, countries and entities covering the whole gamut of human experience going. Myths are at the percussively-throbbing heart of an organisation’s dreams and aspirations. In the case of our country, one of these enduring myths is the notion of the Rainbow Nation. It is a catch-phrase meant to create an environment conducive for nation-building and social cohesion. Sadly, this milestone in the march of our history has been mistaken by some for the final destination. The liberal establishment, with the dominant media in tow, is steeped in the rhetoric of a post-racial society. This, I want to argue, is not just myth-making gone wrong, it is mass hysteria and self-delusion that might backfire. The Rainbow Nation myth should be a springboard from which we launch deep penetrating questions about race, class, identity and social inequality informed by these cultural cleavages. This is no time for resting on false laurels, but a point at which we should pick up the cudgels and fight for what we really want for ourselves.

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