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Almost Human is the personal story of a charismatic and visionary palaeontologist, a rich and readable narrative about science, exploration, and what it means to be human.
In 2013, Wits University reasearch professor Lee Berger caught wind of a cache of bones in a hard-to-reach underground cave near Johannesburg. He put out a call around the world for collaborators – men and women small and adventurous enough to be able to squeeze through 8-inch tunnels to reach a sunless cave 40 feet underground. With this team of ‘underground astronauts’, Berger made the discovery of a lifetime: hundreds of prehistoric bones, including entire skeletons of at least 15 individuals, all perhaps two million years old. Their features combined those of known pre-hominids with those more human than anything ever before seen in prehistoric remains. Berger's team had discovered an all new species: Homo naledi.
The cave proved to be the richest pre-hominid site ever discovered, full of implications that challenge how we define ourselves as human. Did these ancestors of ours bury their dead? If so, they must have had an awareness of death, a level of self-knowledge: the very characteristic we used to define ourselves as human. Did an equally advanced species inhabit Earth with us, or before us?
Addressing these questions, Berger counters the arguments of those colleagues who have questioned his controversial interpretations and astounding finds.
An asteroid the size of Table Mountain crashed into what was to become South Africa over 2 billion years ago, marking the spot. The country’s history since then has always been robust and full of energy. This book takes you in record time from that moment, when the earth’s richest gold reefs were shaped, to the advent of democracy in 1994, another event that stunned the world, and beyond. Along the way you will encounter some of the most ancient dinosaurs on record, the very first people on the planet, and the first cultures. You will see outsiders moving in to reshape history: hunters and gatherers, cultivators and herders, iron-workers from the north, and immigrants from Europe and Asia. They fought and made peace; they stumbled upon gold and diamonds; they rose to the heights of excellence and sank to the depths of oppression, until on one day they all queued as equals to elect a government. That is the story marked by dinosaurs, diamonds and democracy.
It probably took a fraction of a second from the knock - a single bang - to the opening of the door and the entry of an unexpected visitor into the room. They had just finished their lunch. The unannounced visitor ...simply pretended that everything was normal. There he stood - unfazed and somehow gigantic in his presence. The room had suddenly been invaded by a man who was to be a landmark in the lives of the trainees...
The book opens in China, 1962. Andrew Mlangeni is one of a small select group undergoing military training. The unannounced visitor is Mao Tse-Tung. While still at school, Andrew Mlangeni joined the Communist Party of South Africa and also the ANC Youth League. These were the organisations that shaped his values. Decades of resourceful activism were to lead to his arrest and life sentence in the Rivonia trial. Mlangeni's lifelong commitment to the struggle for liberation reverberates with other biographies of leading figures. His perspective comes from a somewhat ambiguous position in the hierarchy of liberation leaders. Mlangeni was selected as one of the first-ever six members who received military training in China before the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. He seems to have been chosen because he was a dedicated, intelligent and dependable operative, rather than a leader.
Even after his release after 25 years on Robben Island, Mlangeni was not given a senior position in the post-apartheid democratic government. 'I was always the backroom boy,' says Andrew Mlangeni about himself. This story of an ANC elder is a rigorously researched historical record overlaid with intensely personal reflections which intersect with the political narrative. Above all, it is one man's story, set in the maelstrom of the liberation struggle.
This biographical project has been developed for, and published in conjunction with, the June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation.
In 1977, RW Johnson’s best-selling How Long Will South Africa Survive? provided a controversial and highly original analysis of the survival prospects of apartheid. Now, after more than twenty years of ANC rule, he believes the situation has become so critical that the question must be posed again.
‘The big question about ANC rule’, he writes, ‘is whether African nationalism would be able to cope with the challenges of running a modern industrial economy. Twenty years of ANC rule have shown conclusively that the party is hopelessly ill-equipped for this task. Indeed, everything suggests that South Africa under the ANC is fast slipping backward and that even the survival of South Africa as a unitary state cannot be taken for granted. The fundamental reason why the question of regime change has to be posed is that it is now clear that South Africa can either choose to have an ANC government or it can have a modern industrial economy. It cannot have both.’
Johnson’s analysis is strikingly original and cogently argued. He has for several decades now been the senior international commentator on South African affairs, known for his lucid analysis and complete lack of deference towards the conventional wisdom.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, Southern Africa was a jumble of British colonies, Boer republics and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. Into this frontier world came the Reitz family, Afrikaner gentry from the Cape, who settled in Bloemfontein and played a key role in the building of the Orange Free State.
Frank Reitz, successively chief justice and modernising president of the young republic, went on to serve as State Secretary of the Transvaal Republic. In 1899, he stood shoulder to shoulder with President Paul Kruger to resist Britain’s war of conquest in Southern Africa. At the heart of this tale is the extraordinary life of Deneys Reitz, third son of Frank Reitz and Bianca Thesen. The young Reitz’s account of his adventures in the field during the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902), published as Commando, became a classic of irregular warfare. After a period of exile in Madagascar, he went on become one of South Africa’s most distinguished lawyers, statesmen and soldiers. Martin Meredith interweaves Reitz’s experiences, taken from his unpublished notebooks, with the wider story of Britain’s brutal suppression of Boer resistance.
Concise and readable, Afrikaner Odyssey is a wide-ranging portrait of an aristocratic Afrikaner family whose achievements run like fine thread through these turbulent times, and whose presence is still marked on the South African landscape.
John Kane-Berman is uniquely qualified to look back over the enormous political and social changes that have taken place in his lifetime in this fractious country. In his career as student leader, Rhodes Scholar, newspaperman, independent columnist, speech maker, commentator, and Chief Executive, for thirty years, of the South African Institute of Race Relations, Kane-Berman has been at the coal face of political change in South Africa.
The breadth and depth of ideas and events covered here are striking: the disintegration of apartheid, the chaos of the ‘people’s war’ and its contribution to the broader societal breakdown we see today, the liberal slide-away, the authoritarian ANC with its racial ideology and revolutionary goals, to mention only a few. Kane-Berman’s willingness to confront received wisdom is thoroughly refreshing, and he is forthright about the threats to freedom, democracy, and growth in contemporary South Africa, many of which he identified even before the ANC came to power.
Writing, debate, and reasoned argument have been Kane-Berman’s stock in trade and his clarity of vision and personal insight have created a memoir of rare candour and absorbing interest.
At just 17, Fatima Meer threw herself into resisting racism, her first public act of defiance in a long and pioneering political life. Despite assassination attempts, she persevered on the courageous path she had chosen.
In this intimate memoir, Fatima Meer shares her story of growing up and of love, joy, longing and loss. As Meer open-heartedly reflects on her regrets as well as her triumphs, an enchanting tale emerges of a rebellious, revolutionary woman who never shied away from the truth.
Die gesprek oor Afrikaans en die bruin mense wat die skrywers in hierdie boek aanroer, is tydig in die opsig dat ná al die ambivalensie oor die Afrikaans van ons hart en die onverkwiklike manier waarop ons in hierdie taal verdruk en misken is, ons ons vry heid gekry het – wat ook verantwoordelikheid meebring om minstens onder mekaar klaarheid te vind oor wat nou vorentoe met ons taal moet gebeur.
Dit is onomstootlik so dat ons as bruin mense die aard van die Khoisan en swart African met ons saamdra. Dit is net so waar dat ons ook Europees in die Anglosaksiese sin van die woord is. Ons is tewens ook trots bewus van ons Asiatiese herkoms. Afrikaans is ook die taal van ons slawevoorouers.
Ons moet al hierdie tradisies vir onsself toe-eien.
Danksy die 30 000 koerante wat die afgelope eeu ses dae per week uitgegee is, is Die Burger vandag ’n huishoudelike naam. Die boek diep van die merkwaardigste gebeure, groot en klein, op wat sy joernaliste beleef het – van die Groot Griep en die twee wêreldoorloë tot Chris Barnard se eerste hartoorplanting en Nelson Mandela se afsterwe in 2013.
Skandes en skandale, natuurrampe, persoonlikhede in die nuus, belangrike sportmomente – die boek is nie net ’n belangrike optekening nie, maar het ook groot nostalgiewaarde. Die “onthou jy nog?”-faktor word versterk deur hope foto’s én spotprente.
Ever since 1503 when an off-course seafarer climbed Table Mountain to find out where on Earth he was, visitors to the Cape have toiled, scrambled, ridden on horseback, climbed or run to the top ... and written about it afterwards.
Taken together, these reports provide a fascinating biography of the mountain. Looked at separately, they are thrilling reads, penned by larger-than-life voyagers and, often unlikely, adventurers. The life-stories of 27 visitors are told with flair and humour. Together with the accounts of the ascents, they provide a riveting read.
This is the first time that the English translations of these reports, written in various languages, including Russian and Swedish, have been collected in one volume.
Jan Christiaan Smuts was ’n soldaat, staatsman, intellektueel en een van Suid-Afrika se grootste leiers. Tog word daar vandag min oor hom gepraat of geskryf, al beleef ons tans skynbaar ’n leierskapsvakuum.
In Jan Smuts: Afrikaner Sonder Grense voer Richard Steyn aan dat ons hierdie indrukwekkende kryger-staatsman se lewe en denke moet herbesoek, omdat daar soveel te leer is uit sy merkwaardige prestasies. Die hoogs leesbare verslag ondersoek onder meer Smuts se rol as politieke leier, as adviseur van wêreldleiers, sy spirituele en intellektuele lewe en sy verhoudings met vroue. Sy unieke bydraes op ŉ verskeidenheid ander terreine, insluitend botanie, bewaring en filosofie, word ook bespreek.
Jan Smuts: Afrikaner Sonder Grense skram egter nie weg van die paradoksale in Smuts nie. Hoewel hy een van die argitekte van die Verenigde Nasies en ŉ groot kampvegter vir menseregte was, kon hy nie so ver kom om die plaaslike swart meerderheid politieke regte te gun nie.
A detailed account of the rich history and resilience of the Bakwena ba Mogopa, one of the most important traditional communities in South Africa.
This seminal and lucid work depicts the scope of social, political and economic change of the community from its earliest beginnings as the Kwena tribe migrating from East Africa to southern Africa, the birth of the tribe as a distinct and independent lineage in the 1600s, the impact of land dispossession of the Boer settlers as they advanced from the Cape Colony to the interior, the impact of Christianity, the racist and oppressive attitudes and policies of colonial governments, through to the hardships endured under the Union government and apartheid.
Mountains Of Spirit captures the role that the traditional leaders of the Bakwena ba Mogopa played in shaping the community and responding to challenges of the modern economy and constitutional democracy of South Africa. It is an important study of the tribal structures, the social, cultural and traditional practices, and the questions of land, minerals and mining rights of the Bakwena ba Mogopa.
A story spanning migrations, wars, land dispossession and restitution, intra-tribal rivalry, unrest, cultural disintegration, forced removals, pain and suffering and reintegration, Mountains Of Spirit reclaims the history of a people and evinces the fighting spirit and resilience of a resourceful community against immense odds.
Situated between the Hottentots Holland Mountains and the Breede River, the Overberg is an important agricultural region and a popular holiday destination for tourists and nature lovers who delight in the beauty of its mountainous landscape, abundant plant species and long sandy beaches.
But this area also has a rich history going back thousands of years, when the indigenous Khoi people originally thrived there, before the first European settlers arrived to leave their own indelible imprint on the culture, architecture and character of the region. This book provides a detailed account of this past by pointing out the many places, buildings, events and personalities that have made the Overberg the diverse and unique place that it is today.
The Overberg has been a home or point of interest for explorers, innovators, artists and writers, for figures as varied as Bartholomew Diaz, Olof Bergh, Hendrik Verwoerd, Gregoire Boonzaier, Audrey Blignault and Breyten Breytenbach. Some of South Africa’s oldest towns, houses and missionary stations can be found here, and its treacherous coastline has been the cause of hundreds of shipwrecks for centuries.
Enlivened by historical and current photographs and informative side panels, this book is a collector’s item.
Internationally-renowned historian Hermann Giliomee has himself been intimately involved in the unfolding drama of South Africa’s history, as participant at the Dakar talks with the ANC, as outspoken commentator for the English press, and as leading thinker on the Afrikaners. Giliomee’s lucidity and original insights make this more than just his own story. It is also a gripping narrative, filled with anecdotes and revealing inner workings of the Afrikaner establishment.
Patriots & Parasites, completed just days before Smuts’s unexpected death in 2016, is her account of the momentous period known as the Transition Era, through the lens of her 25-year career as a key opposition MP and a respected legislator.
With ambitious breadth and rare insight, she examines:
South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994 heralded the end of more than forty years of apartheid. The Government of National Unity started the process of bringing together this deeply divided society principally through the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
However, interest in – and responsibility for - the reconciliation project first embodied through the TRC appears to have diminished over more than two decades of democracy. The narrow mandate of the Commission itself has been retrospectively criticised, and at face value it would seem that deep divisions persist: the chasm between rich and poor gapes wider than ever before; the public is polarised over questions of restitution and memorialisation; and incidents of racialised violence and hate speech continue.
This edited volume uses a decade of public opinion survey data to answer these key questions about the extent of progress in South African reconciliation. Leading social scientists analyse longitudinal data derived from the South African Reconciliation Barometer Survey (SARB) – conducted annually by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation since 2003 as well as interrogate and reach critical conclusions on the state of reconciliation, including in the areas of economic transformation, race relations and social contact, political participation, national identity formation and transitional justice. Their findings both confirm and disrupt theory on reconciliation and social change, and point to critical new directions in thinking and policy implementation.
As uitgesproke kommenatator wat voor en na 1994 met die regering gebots het, een van die Dakar-gangers wat al in die 1980s die ANC gaan ontmoet het en wereldkenner van die Afrikaners, is Giliomee ten nouste betrokke by ons land se geskiedenis – en hoe ons dit verstaan. Hier verweef hy sy eie lewensverhaal met die van die land en die mense wat hom fassineer in leesbare, narratiewe vorm, vol staaltjies en onvertelde verhale.
When Jacob Zuma retires to Nkandla, what will be left behind?
South Africa has been in the grip of the “Zunami” since May 2009: Scandal, corruption and allegations of state capture have become synonymous with the Zuma era, leaving the country and its people disheartened. But Jacob Zuma’s time is running out. Whether he leaves the presidency after the ANC’s national conference in 2017, stays on until 2019, or is forced to retire much sooner, the question is: what impact will his departure have on South Africa, its people and on the ruling party? Can we fix the damage, and how?
Ralph Mathekga answers these questions and more as he puts Zumaʼs leadership, and what will come after, in the spotlight.
When Johan Booysen hears that the new Provincial Police Chief takes backhanders from a Durban businessman, he decides to give her the benefit of the doubt. But the evidence becomes impossible to ignore and he soon gets dragged down the corridors of power and politics into a web of intrigue, deceit and betrayal that, at times, he has trouble making sense of.
Only when he is arrested, handcuffed and tossed into a cell does Booysen realise just how ruthless those opposed to him are – an opposition he comes to call the ‘cabal’ – and whom he believes have more blood on their hands than the so-called Cato Manor Death Squad with which he is closely associated.
Blood On Their Hands traces Johan Booysen’s life and career – from patrolling the streets of Amanzimtoti in the 1970s to his rise in 2010 to major general and head of KZN’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation unit, the Hawks. But his tenure is short-lived. When Booysen decides to take on those so determined to be rid of him, each legal battle he wins is met by hostility and further efforts to shut him out of the of the criminal justice system. But capitulating is not in his DNA…
Africa's leading producer of electricity, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd, is also a vertically integrated monopoly, owned by the South African state. This national champion was shaken in 2008, when it was obliged to introduce 'load shedding', or rolling blackouts, and again in late 2014. Trying to understand how and why one of the iconic pillars of South African state capitalism is now in distress, the authors of this book argue that the so-called electricity crisis is in fact a public monopoly crisis.
Moving beyond technical aspects, they explore the relationship between state power and Eskom before, during and after apartheid. From this perspective, they suggest that the current technical and financial troubles of this public utility are illustrative of the weakening of its technopolitical regime, of how national institutions have governed Eskom's technological development, and of the pursuit of political goals in the production of electrical power. Without a clear industrial strategy during the 2000s, Eskom became a powerful tool of Broad-Black Economic Empowerment as well as a neopatrimonial system which generates profits captured by the ruling party. As a result, crisis in Eskom shakes the whole political edifice. Inefficient and its finances increasingly under scrutiny, this state-owned enterprise's existence as a monopolistic public utility is regularly a subject of debate.
The authors discuss the ambivalent role of Eskom in the national energy transition policy and whether solutions point in the direction of de-integrating this public monopoly and allowing its current technopolitical regime to enter a planned or natural decline.
The demise of apartheid was one of the great achievements of postwar history, sought after and celebrated by a progressive global community. Looking at these events from the other side, An African Volk explores how the apartheid state strove to maintain power as the world of white empire gave way to a post-colonial environment that repudiated racial hierarchy.
Drawing upon archival research across Southern Africa and beyond, as well as interviews with leaders of the apartheid order, Jamie Miller shows how the white power structure attempted to turn the new political climate to its advantage. Instead of simply resisting decolonization and African nationalism in the name of white supremacy, the regime looked to co-opt and invert the norms of the new global era to promote a fresh ideological basis for its rule. It adapted discourses of nativist identity, African anti-colonialism, economic development, anti-communism, and state sovereignty to rearticulate what it meant to be African. An African Volk details both the global and local repercussions.
At the dawn of the 1970s, the apartheid state reached out eagerly to independent Africa in an effort to reject the mantle of colonialism and redefine the white polity as a full part of the post-colonial world. This outreach both reflected and fuelled heated debates within white society, exposing a deeply divided polity in the midst of profound economic, cultural, and social change. Situated at the nexus of African, decolonization, and Cold War history, An African Volk takes readers into the corridors of white power to detail the apartheid regime's campaign to break out of isolation and secure global acceptance.
A fresh, nuanced look at an extraordinary woman and her lifelong fight for justice. Defying the constraints of her gender and class, Emily Hobhouse travelled across continents and spoke out against oppression. A passionate pacifist and a feminist, she opposed both the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War and World War One, leading to accusations of treason. Elsabe Brits travelled in her footsteps to bring to life a colourful story of war, heroism and passion, spanning three continents.
Nomavenda Mathiane stumbled upon her grandmother’s story well over a century after the gruelling events of the Battle of Isandlwana that formed her life. Astounded to hear how her grandmother had survived the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War between the British and Zulu nations as a young girl, Mathiane spent hours with her elder sisters reconstructing the extraordinary life of their grandmother. The result is a sweeping epic of both personal and political battles.
Eyes In The Night is a young Zulu woman’s story of drama, regret, guilt and, ultimately, triumph – set against the backdrop of a Zululand changed beyond recognition.
A true story almost lost, but for a chance remark at a family gathering.
Who are these Guptas who are so powerful, they’re distributing cabinet posts like matrons handing out condoms at a brothel? Who do Americans think they are, accusing Trevor Noah of ‘stealing’ a joke from one of their comedians? Is Sizakele MaKhumalo Zuma’s spaza shop a National Key Point?
In #ZuptasMustFall, And Other Rants, Fred Khumalo runs riot, contemplating the pressing issues that continue to confound, infuriate and exasperate the nation – or to sink it into further controversy. Covering a wide range of topics, including politics, history, current events and celebrity gossip, this compilation of recent and new writings contains Khumalo’s trademark blend of humour and shrewd analysis, as well as his treatment of everyday issues from a uniquely South African perspective.
This is an entertaining collection of thoughts from one of the country’s most seasoned journalists, offering many questions, and tongue-in-cheek answers, on who we are as a nation, where we are going, and how we compare to the rest of the world.
Colour Bar is the true story of a love which defied family, Apartheid, and empire - the inspiration for the major new feature film A United Kingdom, starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.
London, 1945: the heir apparent to the kingship of Bechuanaland (later Botswana) arrives in Britain to complete his legal studies. Seretse Khama, an urbane 24-year-old, educated like Mandela at Fort Hare, is welcomed into the elite world of the Inner Temple in London. But then, in 1947, he does something that will change the course of his life, and that of his country, forcing him into to six long years of exile: he falls in love with a white British woman, Ruth Williams.
Drawing on a mass of previously classified records, Susan Williams tells Seretse and Ruth's story – an astonishing account of how the British Government conspired with apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia to prevent the mixed-race royal couple returning home. This is a shocking account of a shameful period in British history: of overt racism on the streets of London and the corridors of Whitehall, and of appeasement to apartheid South Africa.
But it is also an inspiring, triumphant tale of hope, courage and true love, as with tenacity and great dignity Seretse and Ruth and the Bangwato people overcome prejudice in their fight for justice.
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