Towards a closer union: Race, citizenship and the contested idea of South Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter demonstrates that the political contestation was driven by competing visions and ideas of South Africa: there was the idea of closer union in which all citizens would live side by side in common brotherhood and sisterhood, enjoying the benefits of common citizenship and shouldering its responsibilities. It sketches broadly Jan Smuts’s vision of exclusive citizenship, which he labelled segregation. In claiming their rights to full citizenship, Africans invoked their status as subjects of the Empire and sought its protection against various deprivations imposed on them by the South African Union government. The African Bill of Rights for South Africa advocated for rights of citizenship, including the right to vote and stand for political office to be extended to all South Africans regardless of race. As the euphoria that accompanied the first democratic elections in 1994 has receded and the official ideology of rainbow nationalism loses its appeal, contestation over the idea and meaning of South Africa has increased.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Contested Idea of South Africa
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781000476866
ISBN (Print)9780367353599
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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