The human rights movement in South Africa’s transition to a postapartheid democracy has been widely celebrated as a triumph for global human rights. It was a key aspect of the political transition, often referred to as a miracle, which brought majority rule and democracy to South Africa. The country’s new constitution, its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the moral authority of Nelson Mandela stand as exemplary proof of this achievement.
Umkhonto weSizwe, Spear of the Nation, was arguably the last of the great liberation armies of the twentieth century—but it never got to “march triumphant into Pretoria.” MK—as it was known—was the armed wing of the African National Congress, South Africa’s liberation movement, that challenged the South African apartheid government.
Ufrieda Ho’s compelling memoir describes with intimate detail what it was like to come of age in the marginalized Chinese community of Johannesburg during the apartheid era of the 1970s and 1980s. The Chinese were mostly ignored, as Ho describes it, relegated to certain neighborhoods and certain jobs, living in a kind of gray zone between the blacks and the whites. As long as they adhered to these rules, they were left alone.
Steve Biko inspired a generation of black South Africans to claim their true identity and refuse to be a part of their own oppression. Through his example, he demonstrated fearlessness and self-esteem, and he led a black student movement countrywide that challenged and thwarted the culture of fear perpetuated by the apartheid regime. He paid the highest price with his life. The brutal circumstances of his death shocked the world and helped isolate his oppressors.This
In 1998 David Kruiper, the leader of the ‡Khomani San who today live in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, lamented, “We have been made into nothing.” His comment applies equally to the fate of all the hunter-gatherer societies of the Cape Colony who were destroyed by the impact of European colonialism. Until relatively recently, the extermination of the Cape San peoples has been treated as little more than a footnote to South African narratives of colonial conquest.During
Bafana Kuzwayo is a young man with a weight on his shoulders. After flunking his law studies at the University of Cape Town, he returns home to Soweto, where he must decide how to break the news to his family. But before he can confess, he is greeted as a hero by family and friends. His uncle calls him “Advo,” short for Advocate, and his mother wastes no time recruiting him to solve their legal problems.
“No nation can win a battle without faith,” Steve Biko wrote, and as Daniel R. Magaziner demonstrates in The Law and the Prophets, the combination of ideological and theological exploration proved a potent force.The 1970s are a decade virtually lost to South African historiography. This span of years bridged the banning and exile of the country’s best-known antiapartheid leaders in the early 1960s and the furious protests that erupted after the Soweto uprisings of June 16, 1976.
Land is a significant and controversial topic in South Africa. Addressing the land claims of those dispossessed in the past has proved to be a demanding, multidimensional process. In many respects the land restitution program that was launched as part of the county’s transition to democracy in 1994 has failed to meet expectations, with ordinary citizens, policymakers, and analysts questioning not only its progress but also its outcomes and parameters.Land,
There are many collections of African oral traditions, but few as carefully organized as The Uncoiling Python. Harold Scheub, one of the world’s leading scholars of African oral traditions and folklore, explores the ways in which oral traditions have served to combat and subvert colonial domination in South Africa.
Land tenure rights are a burning issue in South Africa, as in Africa more widely. Land, Power, and Custom explores the implications of the controversial 2004 Communal Land Rights Act, criticized for reinforcing the apartheid power structure and ignoring the interests of the common people.
George Stow was a Victorian man of many parts—poet, historian, ethnographer, artist, cartographer, and prolific writer. A geologist by profession, he became acquainted, through his work in the field, with the extraordinary wealth of rock paintings in the caves and shelters of the South African interior. Enchanted and absorbed by them, Stow set out to create a record of this creative work of the people who had tracked and marked the South African landscape decades and centuries before him.Un
Healing Traditions offers a historical perspective to the interactions between South Africa’s traditional healers and biomedical practitioners. It provides an understanding that is vital for the development of medical strategies to effectively deal with South Africa’s healthcare challenges.
The year 2008 is the deadline set by President Mbeki for the finalization of all land claims by people who were dispossessed under the apartheid and previous white governments. Although most experts agree this is an impossible deadline, it does provide a significant political moment for reflection on the ANC government’s program of land restitution since the end of apartheid.Land
Slavery, Emancipation and Colonial Rule in South Africa examines the rural Cape Colony from the earliest days of Dutch colonial rule in the mid-seventeenth century to the outbreak of the South African War in 1899.For slaves and slave owners alike, incorporation into the British Empire at the beginning of the nineteenth century brought fruits that were bittersweet.
The notion of engagement represents an indispensable tool in a foreign policy practitioner’s armory. The idea of constructive engagement is forwarded by governments as a method whereby pressure can be brought to bear on countries to improve their record on human rights, while diplomatic and economic contracts can be maintained. But does this approach succeed?
In the 1870s, facing cultural extinction and the death of their language, several San men and women told their stories to two pioneering colonial scholars in Cape Town, Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd. The narratives of these San—or Bushmen—were of the land, the rain, the history of the first people, and the origin of the moon and stars.
Rebellions broke out in many areas of South Africa shortly after the institution of white rule in the late nineteenth century and continued into the next century. However, distrust of the colonial regime reached a new peak in the mid-twentieth century, when revolts erupted across a wide area of rural South Africa. All these uprisings were rooted in grievances over taxes.
In this groundbreaking study, Jacob A. Tropp explores the interconnections between negotiations over the environment and an emerging colonial relationship in a particular South African context—the Transkei—subsequently the largest of the notorious “homelands” under apartheid.In the late nineteenth century, South Africa’s Cape Colony completed its incorporation of the area beyond the Kei River, known as the Transkei, and began transforming the region into a labor reserve.
Rewriting Modernity: Studies in Black South African Literary History connects the black literary archive in South Africa to international postcolonial studies via the theory of transculturation, a position adapted from the Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz.
J. M. Coetzee and the Idea of the Public Intellectual addresses the contribution Coetzee has made to contemporary literature, not least for the contentious forays his work makes into South African political discourse and the field of postcolonial studies.
A Burning Hunger shows the human catastrophe that plagued generations of black Africans in the powerful story of one religious and law-abiding Soweto family. Basing her narrative on extensive research and interviews, Lynda Schuster richly portrays this remarkable family and in so doing reveals black South Africa during a time of momentous change.
Traditionally, the Eastern Cape frontier of South Africa has been regarded as the preeminent contact zone between colonists and the Khoi—“Hottentots”—and San—“Bushmen.” But there was an earlier frontier in which the conflict between Dutch colonists and these indigenous herders and hunters was in many ways more decisive in its outcome, more brutal and violent in its manner, and just as significant in its effects on later South African history.This
The concept of Colouredness—being neither white nor black—has been pivotal to the brand of racial thinking particular to South African society. The nature of Coloured identity and its heritage of oppression has always been a matter of intense political and ideological contestation.Not White Enough, Not Black Enough: Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community is the first systematic study of Coloured identity, its history, and its relevance to South African national life.
Since the late 1940s, a violent African criminal society known as the Marashea has operated in and around South Africa’s gold mining areas. With thousands of members involved in drug smuggling, extortion, and kidnapping, the Marashea was more influential in the day-to-day lives of many black South Africans under apartheid than were agents of the state. These gangs remain active in South Africa.In
A compelling study of the origins and trajectory of one of the legendary black uprisings against apartheid, Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid draws on insights gained from the literature on collective action and social movements. It delves into the Alexandra Rebellion of 1986 to reveal its inner workings.Belinda
The demise of apartheid, the release of Nelson Mandela, and a new constitution leading to a democratic government elevated South Africa’s status during the 1990s. Mandela’s World describes and analyzes South Africa’s international development during this momentous decade in which Nelson Mandela stamped his personality on his nation and on the international stage.Despite
In the last decade, the South African state has been transformed dramatically, but the stubborn, menacing geography of apartheid still stands in the way of that country’s visions of change. Environmentally degraded old homelands still scar the rural geography of South Africa.Formerly segregated, now gated, neighborhoods still inhibit free movement. Hostels, Sexuality, and the Apartheid Legacy is a study of another such space, the converted “male” migrant worker hostel.Professor
A century after the South African War (1899-1902), historians are beginning to reevaluate the accepted wisdom regarding the scope of the war, its participants, and its impact. Writing a Wider War charts some of the changing historical constructions of the memorialization of suffering during the war.Writing a Wider War presents a dramatically new interpretation of the role of Boer women in the conflict and profoundly changes how we look at the making of Afrikaner nationalism.
Has South Africa dealt effectively with the past, and is the country ready to face the future? What are the challenges facing both government and civil society in the years ahead? These and other questions are explored in this collection of essays by international and local commentators on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.A range of perspectives on whether the TRC met its objectives of truth and reconciliation is presented.
This book provides a significant revision of South African labor history and makes an important contribution to the debate about apartheid’s genesis. Using a range of untapped sources, it shows that there was far more strike action during World War II than has been officially acknowledged. A new working class, sometimes organized into multiracial unions, won improved wages and softened racial prejudice among white workers.Contradicting
The devastating influenza epidemic of 1918 ripped through southern Africa. In its aftermath, revivalist and millenarian movements sprouted. Prophets appeared bearing messages of resistance, redemption, and renewal. African Apocalypse: The Story of Nontetha Nkwenkwe, A Twentieth-Century Prophet is the remarkable story of one such prophet, a middle-aged Xhosa woman named Nontetha.
In the struggle against apartheid, one often overlooked group of crusaders was the coterie of black lawyers who overcame the Byzantine system that the government established oftentimes explicitly to block the paths of its black citizens from achieving justice.Now, in their own voices, we have the narratives of many of those lawyers as recounted in a series of oral interviews. Black Lawyers, White Courts is their story and the anti-apartheid story that has before now gone untold.Profess
The unique desire of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to turn its back on revenge and to create a space where deeper processes of “forgiveness, confession, repentance, reparation, and reconciliation can take place” reflects the spirit of some churches and faith communities in South Africa.
South Africa’s release of Nelson Mandela from prison in February 1990 and the subsequent independence of nearby Namibia heralded other dramatic political and economic changes in southern Africa that have transformed the region from a global flashpoint to one in which peaceful cooperation and development may become the norm.However, the substantial literature on changes in southern Africa has focused on individual nations, areas, or communities.
Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu was born in the Cape Colony in British southern Africa on October 20, 1885, when a few African men could vote and the prospects for black equality with the ruling whites seemed promising. He died on August 3, 1959, in the Cape Province of the Union of South Africa, eleven years after the apartheid state had begun stripping blacks of their rights and exorcising the ‘ghost of equality’ with a completeness unparalleled in the country’s history.
The Denver African Expedition of 1925 sought “the cradle of Humanity.” The explorers returned claiming to have found the “Missing Link” in the Heikum bushmen of the Kalahari—and they proceeded to market this image. As Robert J. Gordon shows in Picturing Bushmen, the impact of the expedition lay not simply in its slick merchandising of bushmen images but also in the fact that the pictures were exotic and aesthetically pleasing.
Colonization, Violence, and Narration in White South African Writing
André Brink, Breyten Breytenbach, and J. M. Coetzee
By Rosemary Jane Jolly
The representation of pain and suffering in narrative form is an ongoing ethical issue in contemporary South African literature. Can violence be represented without sensationalistic effects, or, alternatively, without effects that tend to be conservative because they place the reader in a position of superiority over the victim or the perpetrator?Jolly
This bold, popularizing synthesis presents a readily accessible introduction to one of the major themes of twentieth-century world history. Between 1922, when self-government was restored to Egypt, and 1994, when nonracial democracy was achieved in South Africa, 54 new nations were established in Africa.
The second edition of To Kill a Man’s Pride builds on the success of the previous edition of this anthology of South African short stories by retaining most of stories, but also featuring more women writers and new male voice, to make it more representative.The milieu remains unambiguously South African, with some stories set in rural areas such as the village, farm or dorp, and others in urban centers such as the big city, suburb or township.The
Petrus Johannes Van der Merwe wrote three of the most significant books on the history of South Africa before he was 35 years old. His trilogy, of which The Migrant Farmer is the first volume, has become a classic that no student of Cape colonial history of the seventeenth, eighteenth or nineteenth century can ignore.
Apartheid is synonymous in most people’s minds with a virulent form of racial ideology and social engineering. Yet ideologies of racial domination and segregation long preceded apartheid, and cannot by themselves explain the shift in racial domination that apartheid involved.Focusing on the period 1935–1962, this collection explores the dynamics which molded apartheid.
In the last three years the migrant labor hostels of South Africa, particularly those in the Transvaal, have gained international notoriety as theaters of violence. For many years they were hidden from public view and neglected by the white authorities. Now, it seems, hostel dwellers may have chosen physical violence to draw attention to the structural violence of their appalling conditions of life.
In June 1976 political demonstrations in the black township of Soweto exploded into an insurrection that would continue sporadically and spread to urban areas across South Africa. In their assault on apartheid the youths who spearheaded the rebellion attacked and often destroyed the state institutions that they linked to their oppression: police stations, government offices, schools, and state-owned liquor outlets.
Lionel Forman died in Cape Town in 1959 at the age of 31. His death occasioned a massive outpouring of grief amongst both black and white opponents of apartheid. At his funeral, Albie Sachs referred to his ‘questing, penetrating mind… He stood way out front, beckoning us onwards.’ The author Lionel Abrahams wrote, ‘If any great number of men lived such lives, the world’s needed revolutions would be automatically accomplished.’
Ralph Bunche, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, traveled to South Africa for three months in 1937. His notes, which have been skillfully compiled and annotated by historian Robert R. Edgar, provide unique insights on a segregated society.