Urban Cultural Climate and Renewed Demands for the African Self

Author: Zethu Cakata (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Speaker: Zethu Cakata
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Contrary to what Liberals in South Africa believed at the dawn of democracy, the suburban cultural landscape appears to resemble the land on which it stands. In recent times South Africa has witnessed growing embrace by the youth of their cultural identity which is African. The post 1994 (the year of the enactment of democracy) predictions in South Africa insinuated that, as more and more South Africans acquire University qualifications, a new South African child would be born who would want to dissociate with an African identity. However, what we have learnt from South African school protests of recent years is the demand by black youth to exist as themselves. The paper will look at how the urban cultural context which, by design, is racial has failed to indoctrinate Black South African youth of the past two decades. In this paper racialised school level codes of conduct pertaining to physical appearance as well as the response by black South African youth to these codes of conduct will be analysed. Urban youth have not lost their African sense as demonstrated by the defence of their appearance, their language and display spirituality. This paper will conclude that, contrary to what has been perpetuated that the urban space has birthed a new black, the reality points to the yearning for the African self.

Keywords: South African Youth, School Policy, Race, Cultural Climate, African identity