STRIKES, DEMONSTRATIONS, and the stamping of feet were only surface signs of a more profound and long-lasting change in the way blacks saw themselves and their place within society. That change mattered more than any particular organization or protest and it found expression in a culture of revolt that flourished during South Africa's years of rebellion.
An exuberance and optimism permeates South Africa's culture of revolt, the opposite of the "dark fury" or alienation of revolt in the western tradition that ranged from Buchner's Woyzeck to Camus' stranger, from Wright's native son to punk rockers. Black South Africans assert God, culture, community, and family against a state trying to emasculate these elements of black society. Black South Africans aren't rebelling against the idea of institutions, but against a specific set of institutions. Their revolt therefore doesn't produce visions of an existential rebel alone in a hostile world, because blacks never regarded as theirs apartheid's institutions and conventions. Neither are South Africans alienated from mainstream society, like many outsiders, underdogs, or minorities who rebel against dominant cultures. Black South Africans form a majority and they remain firmly rooted in black society, tradition, and community. Their revolt is an act not of negation but of assertion and celebration of the coming of an alternative culture -- and a new society.
As with political organization, the renaissance of black culture can be traced to the early 1970s and the ideas of the Black Consciousness movement. Steve Biko diagnosed the problem of oppression in South Africa as a problem of culture. Because whites described African culture in derogatory
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Publication information: Book title: Fighting Years:Black Resistance and the Struggle for a New South Africa. Contributors: Steven Mufson - Author. Publisher: Beacon Press. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 159.
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