The unprecedented imbizo called by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini this past week to defend the Ingonyama Trust land is a clear and worrying indication that the land expropriation without compensation issue, if handled badly, poses a serious and real challenge to South Africa’s unity, peace and stability. It need not.
It’s strange that it is becoming a source of division within the black community, and yet land has historically been a rallying point that unified black people from different cultural and tribal backgrounds. Land, the world over, has the propensity to unite and divide people, depending on how they relate to it.
Those that relate to it as owners unite to keep it and pass it down to their future generations. Those who are dispossessed of it unite to fight and gain access to it, to also pass it on to future generations.
In countries marked by the historical legacies of colonial and apartheid dispossession and exploitation, the divisions tend to be between those who own the land and those feel that their ancestors were disposed of their land by those who own the land. That is why we are where we are.