Public Radio Broadcasting and Cultural Pluralism - South Africa's Case of 'Holy Cultural Matrimony'

Brillant Mhlanga

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A closer analysis of the long and arduous journey traversed by African
nationalism often shows ethnicity marching along as an invisible ‘matrimonial’ partner. It is on that note that this article seeks to present South Africa’s project of managing ethnic diversity using public radio broadcasting as new form of cultural ‘holy matrimony’, with its consummation evinced through the implementation of policies that encourage ethnic diversity. The article
acknowledges that the re-appropriation of meaning for ethnicity in South Africa
now denotes the politically correct and constructed descriptor of ‘culture’,
and is characterized by the continued conflation of ethnicity and race relations.
Unlike in some parts of Africa, where ethnicity is criminalized as ‘tribalism’ – thus
emphasizing its instrumentalized destructive element – in South Africa cultural
diversity is seen as the panacea for a stable democratic arrangement. This article
proposes to discuss cultural pluralism as a democratic imperative within the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which is a public service broadcaster (PSB). Two case studies of ethnic minority radio stations will be presented as empirical evidence: Munghana Lonene FM and Phalaphala FM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35 - 62
Number of pages27
JournalWestminster Papers in Communication and Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • public service broadcasting,
  • cultural pluralism
  • ethnicity
  • nation


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