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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


CONRADIE, Ina; HUMAN-HENDRICKS, Anja  e  ROMAN, Nicolette. Social resilience, structural vulnerability and capabilities in Genadendal, South Africa. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.1, pp.164-181. ISSN 2224-7912.

The town Genadendal or Genaal as it is called by the residents, is situated in the Western Cape, and was founded by the Moravian Church in 1837. The Faculty of Community and Health Sciences at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) has had a longstanding relationship with the Genadendal community through UWC's community engagement activities. The elderly in Genadendal approached UWC to document some of their memories of the pre- and post 1994periods, and one of the authors conducted a series of qualitative in-depth interviews with twelve purposively selected retired residents of Genadendal to document their experiences and memories of both these periods. In this paper we analysed the data through the lens of Amartya Sen's Capability Approach (CA), as well as Resilience Theory1 to evaluate the opportunities, resilience and vulnerabilities of the participants. We explain the core concepts of both these theoretical approaches, and the ways in which they can be used in a qualitative study of this nature. We conclude that the two approaches are complementary and that the combined theoretical framework could potentially be used in additional contexts of a similar nature. The results show that when the participants were growing up there were strong social support mechanisms and cohesive relationships in the closed community. These bonds and relationships protected them and provided them with resilience during the apartheid era. After democracy in 1994 their work opportunities improved and possibilities to be better integrated into the broader society opened up, but the protected life in Genadendal changed radically. Social housing was made available by the municipality to farm workers, and to people from Cape Town and the surrounding areas. Due to the influx ofpeople and gangster elements from Cape Town, structural vulnerabilities increasedfor the residents of Genadendal. The analysis of opportunities, resilience and structural vulnerabilities in Genadendal during and after apartheid, illustrates the experiences of an a-typical, isolated rural community in the Western Cape during those two historical periods. The following themes emerged: Before and during the Apartheid era The first theme identified was the sense of security experienced by the participants provided by the strong relationships amongst the people and the value driven guidance and care from the Moravian church and the teachers in the schools. The second theme highlighted the benefit of landownership. Originally most ofthe families owned land on which they could grow their own vegetables and fruit and keep livestock, which protected them from poverty and hunger. The community shared their vegetables and meat to support each other and this provided protection and care which contributed to the well-being of everybody in the community. The third theme the participants identified was that despite apartheid, the good education provided by caring teachers equipped them for life outside Genadendal. Many became teachers themselves. The good values instilled by the church were furthermore identified as a factor that facilitated social integration in the community of Genadendal and which equipped them for life outside the village. The fourth theme dealt with the period after apartheid. The year 2000 was identified as the time when an influx of people from Cape Town in particular, who were accessing social housing provided by the municipality, brought about dramatic changes. With the influx came crime, drugs, gangsterism and the loss of the values and social cohesion which had been cherished by the community of Genadendal. The negative effects of apartheid and colonial policies now reached Genadendal, which had been reasonably protected until this time due to its special position as a Moravian Mission. They now entered a new era of establishing trauma rooms and support systems to deal with the social problems that entered the community. Despite new work opportunities created by the new democracy after 1994, the community felt they had lost their social cohesion and that the values they knew were no longer universally adhered to. Ironically, better political conditions had not necessarily brought about greater personal freedom and security. It was found that combining the Capability Approach and Resilience Theory provides a potential framework for identifying resilience, vulnerability and capabilities in communities, in particular within historically and politically complex contexts.

Palavras-chave : Genadendal; South Africa; capabilities; capability approach; resilience; structural vulnerability; qualitative; socio-historical; conversion factors; agency; relational ontology.

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