The deictic foundation of ideology, with reference to the African Renaissance

Willem Botha

In his address to the Corporate Council Summit (Chantilly, Virginia, USA), in April 1997, the Deputy President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, mentioned an African Renaissance towards which Africa is advancing. Since this event the concept of an African Renaissance became a driving force in the promotion of the idea of a rainbow nation and the rebirth of Africa. The concept of an African Renaissance actually originated in a preceding address delivered by Thabo Mbeki on 8 May 1996, when he made a statement on behalf of the ANC at the adoption of South Africa's 1996 constitution bill, in which he made the now "famous" statement: "I am an African". This quote implies a trilateral coordinate system: identity; existence in time; and locality. As a deictic expression it portrays the three deictic categories: person, time and space.

In this paper it will be argued that any ideology has a deictic foundation: it originates within a certain (geographical) space; it exists as an active ideology inside a certain time frame; it emanates from a person's (group of persons') cognitive system. I will not deal with time and space very explicitly. I will rather focus on Mbeki's use of the first person singular/plural in relation to the ÑI am an African"-quote. Compare:

  1. I owe my being to the Khoi and San.
  2. I am formed of the migrant who left Europe.
  3. In my veins courses the blood of the Malay.

It will be pointed out that the categories first person singular/plural are cognitively manipulated. I will also refer to the speaker's (conceptualizer's) different vantage point shifts in order to expand the different categories to accommodate as much as possible individuals within a certain spatial domain. As a result he also makes perspective and viewpoint transfers - which imply conceptual identity transformations.

In conclusion, the concept of an African Renaissance will be viewed in relation to the phenomenon of conceptual categorization and recategorization.

Comprehensive list of references:

Mbeki, Thabo

1996 The Deputy President's Statement, on Behalf of the ANC, at the Adoption of South Africa's 1996 Constitution Bill, 8 May 1996. In The African Renaissance. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Occasional Papers, May, 1998.

Mbeki, Thabo

1997 The Deputy President's Address to the Corporate Council Summit - Attracting Capital to Africa, April 1997. In The African Renaissance. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Occasional Papers, May 1998.

Keywords: identity, vantage point shift, perspective, viewpoint