Burying E.S. Educated elites, subjectivity and distinction in Rundu, Namibia

Mattia Fumanti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Members of Rundu's elite take pride in their history of distinction. They weave a subjective narrative, representing themselves as an educated intelligentsia who were once the vanguard of the country's liberation struggle. From apartheid to post-apartheid times, their history reflects their recognised, though not uncontested, accomplishment in education, church leadership, political activism and sport. Because such elite self-representation is an assertion of moral and political commitments shared with the people, it is also problematic, open to challenge and has to be cultivated deliberately in a time of radical change. This article illuminates the elite history of distinction and self-representation through the biography of E.S., a popular hero and exemplary figure of distinction, from his early career in education and sport to his death. A very full eye-witness account of his funeral shows the public and inter-generational dialogue around his life. E.S.'s life is seen to be understood as moved by the elite's moral passions, the sentimento in Paretian terms, and to express the elite's political consciousness. The article locates the elite subjective narrative within the historical and structural context of Rundu. By bringing together Pareto's ideas and Gramsci's theory of intellectuals, the analysis raises broad issues of elite subjectivity and distinction in post-apartheid Namibia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-483
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2007


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