In A Man Apart Richard Steyn once again brings to life a South
African icon. Louis Botha was the first Prime Minister of the Union
of South Africa, a union he did much to create in the decade after
the devastation of the Anglo-Boer War. During the war Botha was
a brilliant young Boer general who through his battlefield strategy
won significant victories over the British in the early stages of the
war. When the weight of British arms overhelmed the Boers,
Botha along with Smuts did much to encourage peace between
English and Afrikaner and led the country to Union in 1910 and
Botha was a big-hearted and generous man who showed
magnanimity in his dealings with all, including former enemies. He
led the South African troops to victory and the capture of German
South West Africa – prior to this he had to put down a revolt of
pro-German Afrikaners. At the Peace of Versailles, representing
South Africa, he pleaded unsuccessfully for magnanimity towards
the Germans. Botha was a globally respected figure – he and
Smuts effectively operated as a double act in South Africa and on
the international stage before Botha’s untimely death in August
1919 at only 57. In A Man Apart this tragically short life is
illuminated in full.
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