‘Tata ma chance’: On contingency and the lottery in post-apartheid South Africa

Type Journal Article - Africa
Title ‘Tata ma chance’: On contingency and the lottery in post-apartheid South Africa
Volume 82
Issue 01
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 41-68
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/anthropology/research/popular_economies/van wyk 35.pdf
As a relative latecomer to the global Lottery industry, the South African government
launched a National Lottery on the 2nd of March 2000, six years after the country?s first
democratic election. The Lottery operator encouraged people to “Tata ma chance, tata ma
millions” (Take a chance, take millions), an invitation South Africans found hard to resist.
But, despite this invocation of „chance?, and countering the claims that gambling is seen as a
means to procure wealth through magical rather than more economically rational routes (J.
and J. L. Comaroff (1997; 1999; 2000: 318-328) gambling among the poor of Cape Town is
experienced as a means through which unpredictability is controlled rather than invited. It is
seen as being governed by forms of causation other than luck, as exhibiting a formalized and
institutionalized character or even of being „downright respectable? (Krige 2011). It is an
economic activity rather than a leisure pursuit: a technology to reach the inaccessible arena of
the market, just as likely to yield a return as other activities such as informal trading. The
Lottery appears to be a means of shoring up the once-predictable flows of money and power,
relying on unseen forces as a means to avoid unpredictable situations or to manipulate risk,
and hence almost to „calculate? risk in relation to other, often equally „chancy?, economic

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