Culture as Cure: Civil Society and Moral Debates in KwaZulu-Natal after Apartheid

  • P Kaarsholm


The paper addresses the nature of ‘really existing’ civil society and the workings of the public sphere in informal urban settlements on the outskirts of Durban. It focuses on debates over morality and the health of the community which have emerged locally in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and highlights the positions taken by different African Initiated Churches – Zionist, apostolic and evangelical churches as well as the Shembe Church. Besides these are placed varieties of virginity testing that have become prominent in the last decade, and the significance of disagreement between the different cultural programmes represented is examined. The paper argues that in these situations of urban informality, poverty and unemployment, there is a richness of debate, cultural invention and entrepreneurship which needs to be recorded and understood in order to appreciate on-going dynamics of political development and struggles over notions of rights. Finally, it is argued that the recording of discussion within and between popular cultural institutions is significant as a resource for future memorialisation and debate around the transition from apartheid to democracy.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2159-9130
print ISSN: 1013-929X