Marikana · Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre · By Peter Alexander, Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope, Luke Sinwell, and Bongani Xezwi

The Marikana Massacre of August 16, 2012, was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the end of apartheid. Those killed were mineworkers in support of a pay raise.

Cover of 'Marikana'


San Rock Art · By J.D. Lewis-Williams

San rock paintings, scattered over the range of southern Africa, are considered by many to be the very earliest examples of representational art. There are as many as 15,000 known rock art sites, created over the course of thousands of years up until the nineteenth century. There are possibly just as many still awaiting discovery.

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The ANC Youth League · By Clive Glaser

This brilliant little book tells the story of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League from its origins in the 1940s to the present and the controversies over Julius Malema and his influence in contemporary youth politics. Glaser analyzes the ideology and tactics of its founders, some of whom (notably Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo) later became iconic figures in South African history as well as inspirational figures such as A. P. Mda (father of author Zakes Mda) and Anton Lembede.

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Govan Mbeki · By Colin Bundy

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.

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Ingrid Jonker · Poet under Apartheid · By Louise Viljoen

Nelson Mandela brought the poetry of Ingrid Jonker to the attention of South Africa and the wider world when he read her poem “Die kind” (The Child) at the opening of South Africa’s first democratic parliament on May 24, 1994. Though Jonker was already a significant figure in South African literary circles, Mandela’s reference contributed to a revival of interest in Jonker and her work that continues to this day.

Cover of 'Ingrid Jonker'


Thirteen Cents · A Novel · By K. Sello Duiker · Introduction by Shaun Viljoen

Every city has an unspoken side. Cape Town, between the picture postcard mountain and sea, has its own shadow: a place of dislocation and uncertainty, dependence and desperation, destruction and survival, gangsters, pimps, pedophiles, hunger, hope, and moments of happiness.

Cover of 'Thirteen Cents'


South Africa’s Struggle for Human Rights · By Saul Dubow

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.

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Spear of the Nation: Umkhonto weSizwe · South Africa’s Liberation Army, 1960s–1990s · By Janet Cherry

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.

Cover of 'Spear of the Nation: Umkhonto weSizwe'


Epidemics · The Story of South Africa’s Five Most Lethal Human Diseases · By Howard Phillips

This is the first history of epidemics in South Africa, lethal episodes that shaped this society over three centuries. Focusing on five devastating diseases between 1713 and today—smallpox, bubonic plague, “Spanish influenza,” polio, and HIV/AIDS—the book probes their origins, their catastrophic courses, and their consequences.

Cover of 'Epidemics'


Steve Biko · By Lindy Wilson

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.

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Paper Sons and Daughters · Growing up Chinese in South Africa · By Ufrieda Ho

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.

Cover of 'Paper Sons and Daughters'


The Anatomy of a South African Genocide · The Extermination of the Cape San Peoples · By Mohamed Adhikari

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.

Cover of 'The Anatomy of a South African Genocide'


The Uncoiling Python · South African Storytellers and Resistance · By Harold Scheub

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.

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The Law and the Prophets · Black Consciousness in South Africa, 1968–1977 · By Daniel Magaziner

“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.

Cover of 'The Law and the Prophets'


Land, Power, and Custom · Controversies Generated by South Africa’s Communal Land Rights Act · Edited by Aninka Claassens and Ben Cousins

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.

Cover of 'Land, Power, and Custom'