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When Mandela Meets Rousseau: An Exploration of South Africa’s Civil Religion

  • Ahmed Haroon JazbhayEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)

Abstract

This chapter grapples with the existence of civil religion in South Africa using Jean Jacques Rousseau’s notions of patriotism, good citizenship, a good lawgiver, separation of powers and an elective aristocracy. After outlining Rousseau’s thoughts on civil religion, it investigates the existence of a Mandela-mythology phenomenon built on the persona of Nelson Mandela by focusing on the importance of events and performative displays in his life, inter alia; the Rivonia Trial, his imprisonment on Robben Island, his release from prison, his presidential inauguration and the Rugby World Cup in 1995, as well as the proliferation of statues, roads and movies in his honour. Thereafter, using Rousseau’s civil religion ideas, the chapter explores whether these events and displays constitute a civil religion a lá Rousseau. The chapter concludes that there indeed exists such a civil religion embodied in a set of beliefs, rituals and symbols as laid out by Rousseau with the purpose being used for political gain by the ruling ANC government.

Keywords

Mandela Mandela-mythology Rousseau Machiavelli Civil religion 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political SciencesUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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