Research Articles

Public Radio Broadcasting and Cultural Pluralism South Africa’s case of ‘Holy Cultural Matrimony’



A closer analysis of the long and arduous journey traversed by African nationalism often shows ethnicity marching along as an invisible ‘matrimonial’ partner. It is on that note that this article seeks to present South Africa’s project of managing ethnic diversity using public radio broadcasting as new form of cultural ‘holy matrimony’, with its consummation evinced through the implementation of policies that encourage ethnic diversity. The article acknowledges that the re‐appropriation of meaning for ethnicity in South Africa now denotes the politically correct and constructed descriptor of ‘culture’, and is characterized by the continued conflation of ethnicity and race relations. Unlike in some parts of Africa, where ethnicity is criminalized as ‘tribalism’ – thus emphasizing its instrumentalized destructive element – in South Africa cultural diversity is seen as the panacea for a stable democratic arrangement. This article proposes to discuss cultural pluralism as a democratic imperative within the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which is a public service broadcaster (PSB). Two case studies of ethnic minority radio stations will be presented as empirical evidence: Munghana Lonene FM and Phalaphala FM.

Keywords: South Africa, public service broadcasting, nation, ethnicity, cultural pluralism

How to Cite: Mhlanga, B. (2017) “Public Radio Broadcasting and Cultural Pluralism South Africa’s case of ‘Holy Cultural Matrimony’”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 8(2). doi: