Africa for Africans or Africa for “Natives” Only? “New Nationalism” and Nativism in Zimbabwe and South Africa

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni


This article makes historical sense of the recent signs of the metamorphosis of nationalism into nativism in Zimbabwe and South Africa. The central thesis of the article is that the resurgence of Afro-radicalism and nativism in post-settler and post-apartheid societies partly reflected deeprooted antinomies of black liberation thought and partly current ideological conundrums linked to the limits of both the African national project and global liberal democracy. Dismissals and sententious approaches towards nativism do not help in understanding the current issues in Zimbabwe and South Africa. There is the need to revisit the issues of imaginings of the African liberation agenda together with issues of the resolution of the national question, teleology of the liberation, ownership of strategic resources, knowledge production, control of public discourse, imaginations of the nation and visions of citizenship and democracy. Making sense of nativism provides an oblique entry into an interrogation of the current status of the African national project in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

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