Development and the Making of an “Entrepreneurial Class” in Lebowa (Englisch)

In: African Historical Review   ;  50 ,  1-2  ;  4-26  ;  2018

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Though the bantustans were economically impoverished and politically fraudulent, their leaders often claimed to be driving a “development agenda” that valorised the power of the market, and particularly the transformative potential of “entrepreneurship” for the well-being of all black South Africans. Using Lebowa, the Northern Sotho bantustan, as a case study, I examine why “development” became such an important framing concept for the homeland project, how the concept changed over time, and why its application was constrained in Lebowa. I show how the internal debates within “development circles”—from policy planners to black businessmen—showcased varying understandings and beliefs about the nature of Lebowa's economy and how best to overcome its weaknesses. But by treating “development” as more than just a legitimising discourse, I ultimately argue that “development” practices— and their particular focus on creating an “entrepreneurial class”—served to entrench an already existing elite in Lebowa.

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