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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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Wilfrid Cooper was a rare man during the dark days of apartheid: an advocate whose career coincided almost perfectly with the rise and fall of the Nationalist government, intersecting eerily with that of its “architect” HF Verwoerd, and yet a man whose enlightened principles and liberal thinking saw him regularly defending those less fortunate.
His storied legal career saw him embroiled in numerous political affairs throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. He represented, among others, Verwoerd’s assassin Dimitri Tsafendas; the SWAPO Six in Swakopmund; the families of Imam Abdullah Haron, Mapetla Mohapi and Hoossen Haffajee and others who died “jumping down stairwells while in detention” or hanged by their own jeans in their cells; and Steven Biko and other activists who were arrested by the security police in the dead of night. There were also the highprofile criminal cases, including the original Kebble-style “assisted suicide” of Baron Dieter van Schauroth and the scandalous case of the Scissors Murderess Marlene Lehnberg.
Wilfrid Cooper reached the peak of his considerable legal prowess in a time when South Africans led a parallel existence, the majority downtrodden while white privilege reigned serenely in the suburbs – a time that could have easily provided him a less controversial career had he desired. And yet even as he and his gregarious wife Gertrude enjoyed wonderful and very sociable years in their Newlands home in Cape Town – an area that was itself remodelled under the Group Areas Act – he chose to walk the path less taken in the shadow of Devil’s Peak. This is his story.
The Soweto Student Uprising of 1976 was a decisive moment in the struggle against apartheid. It marked the expansion of political activism to a new generation of young activists, but beyond that it inscribed the role that young people of subsequent generations could play in their country's future.
Since that momentous time, students have held a special place in the collective imaginary of South African history. Drawing on research and writing by leading scholars and prominent activists, Students Must Rise takes Soweto '76 as its pivot point, but looks at student and youth activism in South Africa more broadly by considering what happened before and beyond the Soweto moment. Early chapters assess the impact of the anti-pass campaigns of the 1950s, of political ideologies like Black Consciousness as well as of religion and culture in fostering political consciousness and organisation among youth and students in townships and rural areas. Later chapters explore the wide-reaching impact of June 16th itself for student organisation over the next two decades across the country. Two final chapters consider contemporary student-based political movements, including #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall, and historically root these in the long and rich tradition of student activism in South Africa.
2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the 1976 June 16th uprisings. This book rethinks the conventional narrative of youth and student activism in South Africa by placing that most famous of moments - the 1976 students' uprising in Soweto - in a deeper historical and geographic context.
When Amin Cajee left South Africa to join the liberation struggle he believed he had volunteered to serve a democratic movement dedicated to bringing down an oppressive and racist regime. Instead, he writes, in this powerful and courageous memoir, "I found myself serving a movement that was relentless in exercising power and riddled with corruption".
Fordsburg Fighter traces an extraordinary physical journey – from home in South Africa, to training in Czechoslovakia and the ANC’s Kongwa camp in Tanzania to England. The book is both a significant contribution to opening up the hidden history of exile, and a documentation of Cajee’s emotional odyssey from idealism to disillusionment.
In his introduction to the book, Paul Joseph, ex-treason trialist, South African Communist Party member and MK recruiter, writes: ”What happened to them and to the others in that chaotic and confused time is both sad and tragic. But his honestly told story is essential for us to have a fuller picture of our history, if only to ensure, perhaps, that future generations will learn from our mistakes.’
South Africa’s social landscape is disfigured by poverty, inequality and mass unemployment. Poverty in South Africa: Past and Present argues that it is impossible to think coherently or constructively about poverty, and the challenge it poses, without a clear understanding of its origins, its long-term development, and it’s changing character over time. This historical overview seeks to show how poverty in the past has shaped poverty in the present. Colin Bundy traces the lasting scars left on the face of South African poverty by colonial dispossession, coerced labour and segregation; and by a capitalist system distinctive for its reliance on cheap, right-less black labour. While the exclusion of the poor occurs in very many countries, in South Africa it has a distinctive extra dimension. Here, poverty has been profoundly racialised by law, by social practice, and by prejudice. He shows that the ‘solution’ to the ‘poor white question’ in the 1920s and ’30s had profound and lasting implications for black poverty. After an analysis of urban and rural poverty prior to 1948, he describes the impact of apartheid policies and social engineering on poverty. Over four decades, apartheid reshaped the geography and demography of poverty. This pocket history concludes with two chapters that assess the policies and thinking of the ANC government in its responses to poverty. One describes the remarkable story of the social security programme developed by the ANC in government since 1994, and finds that cash transfers – pensions and grants – have been the most effective mechanism of redistribution used by the ANC, even though the party remains edgy and anxious about a ‘culture of entitlement’. A final chapter reviews the distribution and dimensions of contemporary poverty, inequality and unemployment, and considers available policy options – and their shortcomings.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Hendrik Verwoerd by Dimitri Tsafendas. Originally released in 1980, Henry Kenney’s incisive study of the architect of apartheid and paragon of Afrikaner nationalism will be republished in 2016 to coincide with this significant moment in South Africa’s modern history.
In Verwoerd: Architect of Apartheid, Kenney interprets Verwoerd in the context of the Prime Minister’s times and his own present, explaining the man and assessing his role in shaping South Africa’s history. He examines the rationale behind the policy of apartheid and, after more than a decade since Verwoerd’s assassination, he is able to distance himself from his subject and offer a balanced and objective insight into the workings of the apartheid system. What results is a fascinating study of a man who identified obsessively with the Afrikaner people, while aware that his foreign birth set him apart.
The new edition contains an introduction by David Welsh, Emeritus Professor at Stellenbosch University, bringing it into the 21st century and updating it for a new generation. This republication will satisfy an enduring interest in, and fascination with, the man responsible for decades of tyranny and oppression.
In 1973 the trade union movement was both racially and regionally divided. It virtually excluded African workers, and in many cases unions were led by cautious and paternalistic leaders, long schooled in avoiding confrontation with either the state or employers. Then widespread strikes erupted in Durban where hundreds of thousands of workers downed tools in support of wage demands. It was a militant explosion unprecedented since the apartheid government had crushed and outlawed mass demonstrations against segregation and 'whites-only' rule. And it provided the impetus for the next decade and a half of trade union organisation, which succeeded in uniting workers on a largely non-racial basis, dominated by the slogan 'one industry one union'.
Maverick Insider is an anecdotal, insider's account of the transformation during this period in the textile, clothing and leather worker sectors. It focuses on the outlooks of leadership groups in different parts of that industry and their efforts to influence the nature of the amalgamation of six unions to form the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU), one of the three largest unions of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). It traces the interaction between union leadership and both political parties and community organisations dedicated to making the country ungovernable, as well as those who were determined to stamp out such calls. It details struggles to unite workers across political divides in the same union organisation and to assert an independent working-class point of view in a period of growing African nationalism. It details the traumatic events on the road to the so-called peaceful miracle that created a rainbow nation but left 22 000 South Africans dead in the process.
And it is the story of a team of people who set out to change the world and formed an unshakeable bond in the process.
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