The story of a South African Firm by Jean and John L. Comaroff

Article Brief

The Royal Bafokeng Nation

The Bafokeng community numbers roughly 300 000 people (About 160 000 live in an area some 150 km North West of Johannesburg, South Africa, with the balance scattered primarily throughout South Africa) who have chosen to retained their “cultural identity” and traditional leadership structures and are led by a hereditary Kgosi (king), currently Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi.

What sets Bafokeng apart from other traditional Kingdoms in SA is its vision.

The Royal Bafokeng Nation comprises a number of entities, each of which has a crucial role to play in reaching the Nation’s goal of a sustainable and self-sufficient community, where people have the skills and the support to reach their highest potential:

* Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), an investment entity in Johannesburg, which is responsible for overseeing the growth and maintenance of the community’s income streams.

* Royal Bafokeng Sports, is an entity within the Royal Bafokeng Holdings and it is in charge of the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, an official venue for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

* Royal Bafokeng Administration (RBA) is principally a town planning unit charged with service delivery and monitoring the progress of the Master Plan across all the regions. It looks after the various wards (kgotla) within the Nation to ensure that infrastructure and services are in line with the long-term vision.

* Royal Bafokeng Institute (RBI) is aimed at uplifting the quality of education and learning in the Royal Bafokeng Nation.

Vision 2020
Even before his enthronement as King of the Royal Bafokeng Nation, Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi set in motion the vital next phase in the development of his people. His brother, Kgosi Mollwane Lebone Boikanyo Molotlegi, paved the way for the initiative by proclaiming Vision 2020. This boldly challenges the Bafokeng people to reduce their dependency on their diminishing mineral assets and to become a self-sufficient community within the first 20 years of this century. Kgosi Leruo’s challenge is to devise a workable plan to realize Vision 2020.

More on Vision 2020 and its masterplan here
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The Nation runs a fierce publicity campaign from its website and also recently published a book with Jacana.

We look at the meaning of Bafokeng – to nationalism, nation states, citizenship, identity etc; the keys to its success and ask can its model be replicated?

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One Response to “The story of a South African Firm by Jean and John L. Comaroff”
  1. Bobby Marie 23 October 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    Not sure were you going with your article “The story of a South African Firm by Jean and John L. Comaroff”, its well written ( except for talking with local community activists) and raises interesting intellectual/cultural questions. But here is a story from with the heart of the Bafokeng kingdom. A local village which the Bafokeng claim to be its subjects, faced regular blasting from the local Impala Platinuim mine. Their appeals for discussion on the problem resulting from the blasting is ignored. Community activists occupy the mine. The mine managers run of the Bafokeng Authorities and convene a meeting with the Queen Mother present. The community activists present a list of problems they face resulting from platinum mining including the destabilisation caused by regular blasting just behind their houses and the cracks in their building. With the support of the Bafokeng Authorities this discussion spreads out over 3 years of ducking and diving by the company and the setting up of a trust for development which excluded the participation of community activists because it was sufficient that the Queen Mother headed the Trust. Eventually the community group was completely marginalised, which was the intention of the mine management. There is much you can draw out of this story of life in the the Bafokeng Kingdom, There are many more stories about how people have lost complete control over their day to their lives with the promise of better schooling and a bits of this and that. They remain largely unemployed and poor in the richest tribe of Africa.( and i also heard the story of internet access for the entire community and the 2020 vision. But for years now it seems to be little else than a good idea.the voice of the grassroots community is missing from your article even though they are very visible and accessible.

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