Ethnic Identity, Ethnicity And Nationalism In The Contemporary World: The ‘Zulu’ Case

As a counterbalance to the intensification of global flows and the historical subordination of African peoples under colonial regimes, several phenomena tending to reclaim local ethnic identities have taken place in the last decades of the 20th century. New ethnopolitical organizations emerge that are configured to establish demands or claim ethnic rights. An example of this phenomenon is played by the “Zulu” ethnic group, in the province of KwaZulu / Natal. This categorization has been created since colonialism and has been sustained by classical anthropology.

Taking as a starting point the year 1994, in which the first multiparty and multiethnic elections were held in the Republic of South Africa, after the abolition of a the apartheid regime, we intend to follow up on the identity significations that have occurred in the Zulu ethnic group about their participation in national politics.african nation

EthnicityBased on a review, analysis and bibliographical reinterpretation, we consider that talking about ” lo Zulu” implies referring to a theoretical construction elaborated in two senses: from inside and outside the group, that is, from the bearers of the ethnic identity in question and the other signifiers, such as the Boers and the English. This construction comes from successive historical events and is presented as, a dialectical elaboration between Western society and the native society, the last of which has to create a model of supra-community identity that is useful and coherent with the new national panorama. A homogenizing stereotype is thus constructed that brings together a diversity of identity experiences under nationalist ideas.

The Zulu ethnic group belongs to the Bantus tibus, which reached the, area of southern Africa after a long migration from the Niger River delta, in West Africa, to the south and east, reaching the current Provincial KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), around 500 BC The particularity of this migration is that it was gradual, taking place in small groups that settled in different areas of the region. Some ended in the Highveld, others in northeastern South Africa, and others, the ancestors of the Nguni people (Zulus, Xhosa, Swazi and Ndebele), preferred to live on the coast. These groups not only raised cattle but also practiced agriculture, mainly harvesting wheat and other products (Schreaeder, 2000). In the new ethnopolitical organizations, ethnicity manifests itself exponentially, as they are configured to establish demands or claim ethnic rights.