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5 Maintaining Mutuals: Hope For Islands Of Trust

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Chapter Summary

Distrust was an inevitable part of public life in South Africa. Historically, the colonial government and apartheid were characterized by violence, intimidation, corruption, and a fear of spying neighbours. In an emerging democracy, such as South Africa, it is crucial to have trust in transforming government bureaucracies, newly established local governments, new economic activities, and new citizens that were previously confined to Bantustans. The case of Masifunde reveals the inventive ways in which neighbours contained risks and managed relations with their fellow members. It also reveals a number of measures taken to contain the risk associated with the financial mutual. Financial mutuals can be regarded as ‘islands of trust’ but only to a certain degree. They were part of a violent, threatening, and distrustful society, although the members made attempts to separate themselves and their money by creating ‘islands of trust’.

Keywords: Bantustans; colonial government; distrust; financial mutual; islands of trust; Masifunde; public life; South Africa



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