CHAPTER 3 Designing the South African Nation

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Designing the South African Nation 61, domination before attaining monolithic control over the black majority. population which only ended in the 1990s with the emergence of democracy. We shall examine the official or sanctioned historiography of South Africa from. 1910 to 2013 and show how selected myths of nationhood were employed. for ideological purposes We shall suggest that selected state institutions and. government sponsored initiatives created prisms through which successive. South African imagined communities were represented visually Anderson. We shall not necessarily discuss these official discourses in terms of. success or failure but rather we want to emphasize the vital role that com. munication design played in ideological activation The manner in which. South Africa was projected from being a white nation for white people. to a post apartheid state for a new multiracial constituency corresponds to. the change from colonial to postcolonial and global gazes In attaining this. status a new visual language emerged that rejected the clich d colonialist. image of South Africa and explored its new confident urban identity of the. early twenty first century Sauthoff 2004 35 36 argues that this capacity. of visual domains to clarify cultural identity forge a national consciousness. and contribute to the expression a national identity encapsulates the way in. which the new social political and cultural order is conceptually fixed and. visually registered, As stated above this chapter is not a national history of design nor does. it attempt to deal with issues related to the ontology or teaching of design. history in South Africa There has been a lack of a critical discourse in South. Africa about these matters largely as a result of inadequate documentation. and ongoing debates concerning contested national histories South African. historiography in general has traditionally been divided into successive. schools British imperialist settler colonialist Afrikaner nationalist and the. revisionist but only the latter started to incorporate broader social history. in the 1990s Visser 2004 1 At that time South African cultural historians. started to interrogate issues such as identity gender memory heritage environ. mentalism national monuments and museums and leisure and tourism Visser. 2004 17 19 Writing as a communication designer and a visual culture spe. cialist respectively we consider that writings on design could benefit from the. interdisciplinarity ushered in by cultural studies during the latter part of the. twentieth century In particular cultural studies scholars interest in the opera. tions of ideology and power by means of cultural practices such as design. informs this chapter, In order to investigate how communication design mythologized the. nation and invested meaning in signifiers to invent the idea of the nation we. shall look at three key periods in South African history 1910 to 1948 1948 to. 1990 and 1990 to the present,Berghahn Open Access Edition Not for Resale. 62 Jacques Lange and Jeanne Van Eeden,A White Man s Land 1910 1948.
The first colonial settlement of South Africa was undertaken by the Netherlands. in 1652 but Britain became the dominant imperial power after 1815 By the. late 1800s what was once the vast unspoilt domain of the San and Khoikhoi. was ruled by white colonizers and worked by the descendants of their Malay. Coloured slaves and Indian indentured labourers Under British colonial rule. land previously populated by indigenous peoples became the Cape Colony. Republic of Natalia Republic of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Republic British domination was maintained until after the end of the South. African War 1899 1902 After this victory by Great Britain the imperative of. nation building and conciliation between the English and Afrikaans speaking. white people became a national priority The Union of South Africa was. declared in 1910 and after this successive white governments enacted policies. that gave control of the land and economy to a white minority entrenched. urban segregation and controlled black movement for example the Natives. Land Act of 1913 The declaration of Union facilitated the reinvention of the. South African nation constructed principally around the notion of moderniza. tion to counter connotations of backwardness Rassool and Witz 1996 359. Modernization as a metaphor for the advantages of Western culture stood as. a powerful counterfoil against the colonial legacy of essentialist imagery based. on stereotypes of nature by which South Africa had previously been repre. sented The period from Union until 1948 is characterized by the oscillation. between images of nature primitivism with images that asserted the advan. tages of culture modernity this rhetoric satisfied Western desire for the exotic. but simultaneously offered reassuring images of civilization Rassool and Witz. One of the most influential bodies that shaped the Union was the South. African Railways SAR With the South Africa Act of 1909 the formerly. separate railway systems were combined into the government controlled. South African Railway and Harbour Administration SAR H under the first. General Manager Sir William Hoy The SAR controlled all the harbours train. services motor bus services and air travel representing an effective monopoly. related to travel to in and from South Africa The SAR was not limited to. transportation according to Foster 2003 661 as one of the main employers. it influenced almost every aspect of South Africa s social and economic life. The SAR expedited the expansion of the mines and agriculture and facilitated. the urbanization and industrialization that made the Witwatersrand the eco. nomic centre of South Africa Foster 2008 34 36 According to Foster 2008. 203 the first generation Anglophile administrators of the SAR strategically. aligned their policies with those of the Union government to illustrate the. advantages of capitalism imperialism urbanization and modernization Foster. 2003 661 663,Berghahn Open Access Edition Not for Resale. Designing the South African Nation 63, The process of conceptualizing a new metanarrative of South Africa. was for the first time largely a visual one The SAR established a Publicity. Department SARPD in 1910 under Mr A H Tatlow to deal with public. ity in newspaper magazine and book advertisements guide books pamphlets. posters and photographs SAR 1910 36 The purpose of the publicity pro. paganda produced by the SAR was to disseminate visual material of South. African scenery and industries in all parts of the world SAR 1910 37 to. stimulate tourism and industrial investment in South Africa SAR 1911 43. The SARPD employed photographers and graphic artists to envision the new. nation and as British trends predominated in the first half of the twentieth. century most of these artists had strong ties with the English speaking audi. ence in South Africa Sutherland 2004 53 Throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The Illustrated London News carried extensive advertisements by the SAR The. visual and written rhetoric centred on the myth of nature that tapped into. the prevailing fashion for sunshine as healthy and restorative South Africa the. Empire s sun land Fig 3 1 was accordingly promoted for its outdoor life fresh. mountain air of the veld and escapism But the vast romance and inspiration of. Africa Fig 3 1 was continually offset by reassuring images of modernity Few. countries so perfectly blend the luxury of modern civilisation with primitive. customs The Illustrated London News 9 October 1937 the SAR often used. transport as the signifier of modernity that helped to create the myth of the. modern South African nation, The SAR also had vested interests in how white middle class South. Africans imagined their country and helped to promote a common white. identity that was largely based on familiarity with and entitlement to the land. Foster 2003 660 The SARPD documented the country visually and created. iconic views that formed a conceptual prism through which notions of nation. hood and the idea of South Africa as a white man s country were read Foster. Figure 3 1 SARPD advertisements in The Illustrated London News From left to right. South Africa The Empire s sun land 28 July 1928 Visit South Africa s Riviera. 12 September 1936 South Africa 9 October 1937 For speed and comfort poster. published by South African Railways Airways circa 1934 Courtesy of Transnet. Heritage Library,Berghahn Open Access Edition Not for Resale. 64 Jacques Lange and Jeanne Van Eeden, 2008 40 42 49 86 87 These images included natural scenes such as Table.
Mountain the veld and the Drakensberg but also cultural production such as. so called Bushman paintings and Cape Dutch architecture These Cape Dutch. gables became emblems of an idealized romanticized white history and were. taken up by the hegemonic official discourse of nationalism Coetzer 2007. 174 forging a new social imaginary of white South Africa. In 1947 the state sponsored South African Tourist Corporation Satour. was founded and its mandate was to publicize South Africa for the international. market whereas the SARPD continued to focus on the domestic market. Particularly during the apartheid years Satour played a key role in projecting a. positive view of South Africa and supporting the country s policies. The Anglophile nature of the South African Union began to change. during the 1920s The pact government in 1924 between the National Party. and the Labour Party offered preferential treatment for white Afrikaans. farmers and workers especially in the SAR The rise of Afrikaner nationalism. during the 1930s brought to an end the solidarity that had existed between. English and Afrikaans speaking South Africans during the early decades of. the twentieth century Foster 2008 250 Afrikaner nationalism was supported. by the founding of the Broederbond 1 FAK Federation of Afrikaner Cultural. Organizations and the ATKV Afrikaans Language and Cultural Organization. the cultural arm of the SAR in the 1920s the recognition of Afrikaans as an. official language in 1925 and the creation of a new national flag in 1928 Fig. Figure 3 2 The South African national flag 1928 1994 Image courtesy of South. African Bureau of Heraldry,Berghahn Open Access Edition Not for Resale. Designing the South African Nation 65, The political history of this flag offers a representative narrative of this era. in South Africa s quest for nationhood since it raises many questions related to. imperialism nationality compromise concession and imagined cohesion which. have been largely unexplored in the design discourse South Africa used the. defaced red and blue British ensigns as national flags after 1910 Brownell 2011. 43 44 In 1925 the Union Parliament introduced a bill that paved the way for. a new South African flag The design process sparked emotional controversy. and dissent between English and Afrikaans speakers regarding the inclusion or. not of the Union Jack as it was felt that this perpetuated British dominance. Brownell 2011 46 A compromise was reached by making the orange white. and blue Prinzenvlag the basis of the design since it was considered to be non. political and probably the first to be raised in South Africa by Jan van Riebeeck. in 1652 The Union Jack the flag of the Republic of the Orange Free State and. the Transvaal Vierkleur were positioned as flaglets in the centre of the white band. as a gesture of compromised cohesion Brownell 2011 48 The Nationality and. Flags Act of 1927 provided further concessions by allowing the Union Jack to. be flown alongside the new South African flag an arrangement that lasted until. 1957 These compromises for the sake of cohesion seem to be a re occurring. metanarrative of South Africa s complex history as the terms represent a prism. that reflects the win loose loose win or win win scenarios for different inter. est groups at various stages, The gradual Afrikanerization of government in the 1910 to 1948 era. culminated in the victory of the National Party in 1948 ushering in the era. of apartheid rule and the win loose scenario of imagined cohesion where the. majority black population lost the right to self determination for more than. forty years,Communication Design under Apartheid 1948 1990. Benedict Anderson 2006 6 famously defines a nation as an imagined political. community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign The myth. of the apartheid era mainly centred on the concept of nurturing the notion of. the volk the Afrikaans term for nation or people The relevance of the term is. an imagined identity or perhaps more accurately a community of self interest. since it symbolically describes the rise of Afrikaner nationalism as a political. ideology that excluded the realities of all South Africans Three key aspects. determined how this manifested itself in the political and communication. design domains language Afrikaans religion Calvinism and ethnicity sep. aration In the late nineteenth century the Rev S J Du Toit proposed that. Afrikaners were a distinct nationality with a fatherland2 South Africa and their. own language Afrikaans and that the volk s destiny was to rule South Africa. For more than forty years the National Party built on this mythic tripartite. write a definitive history of South African design but rather to write histories of design in South Africa that recuperate neglected narratives or revise earlier historiographies This chapter is accordingly an attempt to document a number of key moments in the creation of South African nationhood between 1910 and

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