Postmodernism and the reclaiming of tradition
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‘The history of the Zulu people is the history of myself’.1 In Africa, as elsewhere, the notion of tradition is bound up with the discourses of ethnicity and nationalism. Typically invoking pre-colonial identities as the basis of peoplehood, such narratives of common descent are imbued with a strong sense of ‘pastness’, orientating the modern self in traditional terms. Anderson explains this invocation of tradition as a feature of the inverted nature of ethnic narratives of common descent.2 More common are accounts which focus on the ‘loss of meaning’ brought about by modernisation and the psychic security offered by an idealised past.