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Southern Africa

Southern Africa Book List

Cover of 'Short-Changed?'

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.

Cover of 'The Soweto Uprising'

The Soweto Uprising
By Noor Nieftagodien

The Soweto uprising was a true turning point in South Africa’s history. Even to contemporaries, it seemed to mark the beginning of the end of apartheid. This compelling book examines both the underlying causes and the immediate factors that led to this watershed event. It looks at the crucial roles of Black Consciousness ideology and nascent school-based organizations in shaping the character and form of the revolt.

Cover of 'South Africa’s Suspended Revolution'

South Africa’s Suspended Revolution
Hopes and Prospects
By Adam Habib

South Africa’s Suspended Revolution tells the story of South Africa’s democratic transition and the prospects for the country to develop a truly inclusive political system. Beginning with an account of the transition in the leadership of the African National Congress from Thabo Mbeki to Jacob Zuma, the book then broadens its lens to examine the relationship of South Africa’s political elite to its citizens.

Cover of 'Marikana'

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 'The ANC Youth League'

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.

Cover of 'Govan Mbeki'

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.

Cover of 'San Rock Art'

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.

Cover of 'Epidemics'

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 'Steve Biko'

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.

An allAfrica.com 2011 New & Notable Book
Cover of 'The Anatomy of a South African Genocide'

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 'Mad Dogs and Meerkats'

Mad Dogs and Meerkats
A History of Resurgent Rabies in Southern Africa
By Karen Brown

Through the ages, rabies has exemplified the danger of diseases that transfer from wild animals to humans and their domestic stock. In South Africa, rabies has been on the rise since the latter part of the twentieth century despite the availability of postexposure vaccines and regular inoculation campaigns for dogs. In Mad Dogs and Meerkats: A History of Resurgent Rabies in Southern Africa, Karen Brown links the increase of rabies to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

A Choice “Outstanding Academic Title”
Cover of 'The Law and the Prophets'

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 Uncoiling Python'

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.

Cover of 'Land, Power, and Custom'

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 'Unconquerable Spirit'

Unconquerable Spirit
George Stow’s History Painting of the San
By Pippa Skotnes

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.