Original Research

Cultural conflicts, dilemmas and disillusionment among the San communities at Platfontein

G.T. Batha
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 10, No 4 | a87 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v10i4.87 | © 2014 G.T. Batha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 February 2016 | Published: 30 December 2014

About the author(s)

G.T. Batha, Post Doctoral Fellow at the Institute for Dispute Resolution in Africa, University of South Africa, South Africa

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This article examines the cultural conflicts, dilemmas and disillusionment among the San communities at Platfontein in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. A critical review of written texts, interviews, observations and focus group discussions with the community knowledge-holders shows that the community’s new Westernised lifestyle in the midst of the capitalist society at Platfontein turns the collective spirit, human relations, mutual reverence, sincerity and self-confidence that existed before their contact with Westernised societies into unusual selfishness, individualism, impiety, dishonesty, greed and disregard for others. The conflict between the communal hunter-gatherer culture and the alien individualist mode of existence has created serious dilemmas and moral conflicts in the community. The Westernised mode of existence has alienated the community from their human nature, their natural environment, their productive chores and their communal life. The community has an undefined, unclear and controversial understanding of their own racial identity. The San refer to the black and white races that have historical relationships with them as Others, which in turn has an Othering effect on the San themselves. The causes of moral and psychological conflicts, identity crises, dilemmas and disillusionment are power relations related to ethnic and racial politics, colonial discourse and identity politics. The researcher recommends that to achieve harmonious relationships with other communities and among themselves, the San need to redefine themselves and other societies that have historical ties with them.


identity politics; disillusionment; dilemma; alienation; Othering; San; Platfontein; interpellation


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