Edited By Stephen G. Parker, Rob Freathy and Leslie J. Francis
15 Traditional Beliefs and Practices in the New South Africa
In 1994, South Africa broke the shackles of apartheid and held its first democratic election. On 4 February 1997, its new constitution came into force, one of the most progressive in the world. In this new democracy, how important is tradition? Does it still have a place in the new South Africa? This chapter reports on an empirical study that consisted of the application of a questionnaire to a random sample of ninety-five black South Africans in the Johannesburg, Gauteng, area. The results showed that tradition was still a very important part of the lives of the black South Africans who participated in the study. In fact, it was something they had internalized since birth and it had remained part of their definition of self.
In the young democratic South Africa there has been rapid change due to urbanization, greater access to media, and changes in the social, economic and political spheres. During the last eighteen years of democracy, black South Africans have experienced freedom: freedom of religion, of political orientation, of movement, of every aspect of their lives. Due to globalization, black South Africans also have in a short space of time become citizens of the world. In the past, traditional beliefs and practices of black South ← 321 | 322 → Africans, going back many thousands of years, played an important role in their lives. Traditions sit deep in people’s popular consciousness and help define who they are.
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