Colin Bundy

Colin Bundy is one of South Africa’s foremost historians and the author of The Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry as well as the biography of Govan Mbeki in the series Ohio Short Histories of Africa.

Listed in: African Studies · Biography · History · Biography, Activists · African History · Literary Studies

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Short-Changed? · South Africa since Apartheid
By Colin Bundy

What have been the most significant developments — political, social, economic — in South Africa since 1994? How much has changed since the demise of apartheid, and how much remains stubbornly the same? Should one celebrate a robust democracy now two decades old, or lament the corrosive effects of factionalism, greed, and corruption on political life? Colin Bundy tries to answer such questions, while avoiding simplistic or one-sided assessments of life under Mandela, Mbeki, and Zuma.

“South Africa is a place where the dust never settles. The past is always palpable in its present. In this exceptionally thoughtful book, one of the country’s most distinguished historians, Colin Bundy, explains quite how much this is true. For all its brevity, Short Changed? packs a hefty punch: not only does it offer a compelling explanation for the fall of apartheid, but it makes a very persuasive case for the ways in which the long shadow of colonialism has insinuated itself, is insinuating itself, into the South African here-and-now—and into its probable futures.”

John Comaroff, Harvard University




Govan Mbeki (1910–2001) was a core leader of the African National Congress, the Communist Party, and the armed wing of the ANC during the struggle against apartheid. Known as a hard-liner, Mbeki was a prolific writer and combined in a rare way the attributes of intellectual and activist, political theorist and practitioner.

“[This] thoughtful biography…examines the ways in which [Govan Mbeki] placed greater emphasis than many other cadres on the political importance of rural people…This is a very accomplished monograph. Neither sentimental nor vague and dispassionate, Bundy distils Mbeki's legacy as that of writer, teacher and revolutionary, albeit one who had participated in a ‘modest revolution.’”

Kate Law, Journal of African History




Learning from Robben Island · Govan Mbeki's Prison Writings
By Govan Mbeki · Introduction by Colin Bundy · Foreword by Harry Gwala

“South Africa has jailed so many gifted men and women that there already exists a sizeable body of prison writing…The essays by Govan Mbeki which comprise this book add to this distinguished list. Yet they differ in important respects from all others: they were written, circulated and preserved in prison. They were never intended for publication but to be read by other prisoners; their aim is not to share an experience but to educate politically. They are remarkable documents.

Learning From Robben Island is an extraordinary selection of Mbeki's essays written, for the most part, between the late 1970s and mid 1980s…[It] bears testimony to the endurance of the human spirit, and, in Colin Bundy's words, ‘marks a victory in the continuing contest between the pen and the sword.’”

Philip Steenkamp, The International Journal of African Historical Studies