Exploring the sense of belonging of Setswana–speaking older women in Ikageng who were forcibly relocated during apartheid
Kolobe, Patricia Stockie
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The social displacement enforced by the South African Group Areas Act between 1954 and 1955 was understandably experienced as a destructive process with physical and emotional consequences arising from various types of losses, separation and feelings of helplessness. Although the forced removals affected all the people in the community - also in later years and generations, it seems as if older people are affected the more as they still remember the losses they experienced when they were removed from their homes and their communities, when their heritage and their culture were displaced. The sense of belonging being experienced by older people, who were subjected to these forceful removals, is therefore unclear. In this study the sense of belonging is defined as the effective participation, involvement, contribution and emersion of people when relating to their social, physical, spiritual, emotional and cultural places. In this study older (aged 60 and above) Setswana speaking residents of Ikageng, a community just outside Potchefstroom in the North West Province, South Africa, who were also forcibly relocated from Kloppersville to Ikageng, 10 kilometers away from Kloppersville, were asked to identify places that are important to them in Ikageng and to describe the meanings they attach to these places. In the research, no one identified any places of importance in Ikageng, instead throughout the research they kept on referring to their lives in Kloppersville, their former place of residence, the place where they were forcibly removed from – giving purpose and direction to this study and leading to the question: What are the experiences related to the sense of belonging of Setswana speaking older women who were forcibly relocated during Apartheid in South Africa? The older persons’ experiences of their sense of belonging in the place where they were forcibly relocated to must be understood in relation to the past. A qualitative research approach was used and a narrative research design followed. Two sets of data were gathered and are reported on in this article that focuses on the narrations of 11 older Tswana people from the Day Care Centre for the Aged in Ikageng. Narrative data collection and analysis, as well as a variety of qualitative research methods and media, were used to collect data. These include: focus group discussions, the Mmogo– MethodTM, videos, audio, photographs and observational notes. The thematic analysis of textual data, narrative–oriented inquiry as well as visual data, established trustworthiness of this research through crystallization. By drawing on the deeper symbolic meaning derived through the use of the MmogomethodTM, the study has revealed that the sense of belonging is a relational phenomenon that cannot be understood in absence of the different relational environments. In an African culture the relationship with the current environment resonates with the effects that historical processes, structural abuses, discrimination, racism and devaluation had on individuals whose lives have been uprooted. This study has shown that the older women have a micro–organic relational sense of belonging to the place of relocation and not to the whole context and other relational environments and that they revealed more sense of belonging towards the place where they were relocated from.
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