Desmond Tutu’s construction of the “Rainbow Nation,” interpreted as the political transference of the Pauline tradition of oikodome in the creation of a democracy, the harnessing of rhetoric to a rational and deliberative nationhood, is considered by South African novelist John Coetzee to be a travesty of reason, the manipulation of a commonplace without ethical purpose. This is how Coetzee deftly disentangles ethics and rhetoric:

The master-image behind the two ceremonies [the opening and closing ceremonies of the World Cup of Rugby] was clearly Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s “Rainbow People,” modified for the occasion into “Rainbow Nation.” The rainbow metaphor does not originate with Tutu, of course: he brought it back from his travels in America, where it had most recently served Jesse Jackson (for whom a “rainbow coalition” of interest groups was intented to secure the 1988 Democratic nomination) … “Rainbow” thus enters South African discourse in a self-aware fashion as an ideological term, a substitute for a long series of discredited synonyms: “plural,” “veelvolkig,” and the like. It absolves itself of the taint of mere synonymy by the instrumental intention behind it: it is to be set to work to reverse the mind-set of a population locked by its former masters into ethnic-political compartments. Specifically, it predicates the nation as a mental construct and nationhood as a collective state of mind.1