Author: Abebe Zegeye

Abstract

This article looks at the issue of the origin of the Ethiopian Jews and how they have survived the odyssey of their return to Yerusalem. The questions of how and when ancient Judaic influences entered Ethiopia remain the subject of controversy. Their impact on the last surviving Ethiopian Jews, the Beta Israel, and the Ethiopian Jews' right of return to modern Israel are of undoubted importance today. This raises the issue of whether the religious ideal and the automatic right of all jews to emigrate to Israel are equally applied. Furthermore, the concrete experiences of the Ethiopian Jews in Israel compel one to ask new questions about the possibility of the Beta Israel beginning to rethink their relationship with Ethiopian society.

In: Religion and Theology
In: Religion and Theology
Author: ABEBE ZEGEYE

ABSTRACT

South Africa's 'coloured people' have, insofar as they can be described as a distinctive group, tended historically to be viewed as a 'minority group' that does not warrant separate research attention. Many coloured people accepted the identity the government attempted to impose on all 'coloured people,' making it a hazardous research task to determine which identities dominate social formation among 'coloured people.' In spite of the apartheid government's attempts, however, today no single coloured identity or definition of colouredness can be identified; rather, there are multiple identities based on regionalism, language and ideology. The apartheid government attempted to impose its own ideas of what South Africans' identities were through legislation and policy. However, this did not work because ultimately the legislation and policies were clearly discriminatory against all people of colour. The identities of many people were not so much formed by the government's imposed views of 'separate' identities, but by resistance to those imposed identities. While there was a strong tendency for people to accept a separate 'identity' for 'coloured people' under the apartheid system of government, there is no longer any justification for this as the present government and South Africans in general have accepted a democratic constitution guaranteeing equal rights to all its subjects.

In: African and Asian Studies
The essays in this collection reveal that the social and political development of post-apartheid South Africa depends to an important degree on the evolving cultural, social and political identities of its diverse population and on the role of the media of mass communications in the country's new multicultural democracy. The popular struggle against the country's former apartheid regime and the on-going democratisation of South African politics have generated enormous creativity and inspiration as well as many contradictions and unfulfilled expectations. In the present period of social transformation, the legacy of the country's past is both a source of continuing conflict and tension as well as a cause for celebration and hope.
Post-apartheid South Africa provides an important case study of social transformation and how the cultural, social and political identities of a diverse population and the structure and practices of the media of mass communications affect the prospects for developing a multicultural democracy. The promise and the challenge of building a multicultural democratic society in a country with a racist and violent authoritarian legacy involves people with different identities and interests learning how to respect their differences and to live together in peace. It involves developing an inclusive or overarching common identity and a commitment to working together for a common destiny based on social equity and justice.
South Africa's media of mass communications have an important role to play in the process of unprecedented social transformation - both in developing the respect for differences and the overarching identity as well as providing the public forum and the channels of communication needed for the successful development of the country's multicultural democracy. In South Africa, the democratization of the media must go hand in hand with the democratization of the political system in order to ensure that the majority of the citizenry participate effectively in the country's multicultural democracy. Topics covered include The "Struggle for African Identity: Thabo Mbeki's African Renaissance", "Between the Local and the Global: South African Languages and the Internet", "Shooting the East/Veils and Masks: Uncovering Orientalism in South African Media" and "Black and White in Ink: Discourses of Resistance in South African Cartooning".

Contributors are Pal Ahluwalia, Gabeba Baderoon, Richard L. Harris, Sean Jacobs, Elizabeth Le Roux, Andy Mason, Thembisa Mjwacu, Herman Wasserman, and Abebe Zegeye.