Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A reading list for understanding Apartheid

When asked for a book that would explain apartheid, I turned to Peter. He replied, in his usual way, with the fact that no one book could hold it all. But here's a list:

1.  MY TRAITOR'S HEART - Rian Malan - - a personal and highly charged journey -

2.  THE MIND OF SOUTH AFRICA - Allister Sparks ( ).  Left-wing, but comprehensive and reasonably balanced.  See also his sequels, TOMORROW IS ANOTHER COUNTRY ( ), the story of the transition period (through which I lived - he captures the flavor well) and BEYOND THE MIRACLE: INSIDE THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA ( ), which IMHO is less good, but studies the first post-apartheid period.

3.  COUNTRY OF MY SKULL by Antjie Krog ( ) - the account of the first two years of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.  Shows in stark, horrifying detail what apartheid was like for most blacks.  Searing.  I was personally involved with some of those who went through some of these things.  It can still make me weep.

4.  KAFFIR BOY by Mark Mathabane ( ) - a black child growing up under apartheid.  Published in 1986, eight years before the end of apartheid.

5.  THE LAST TREK by F. W. de Klerk ( ) - the last white president describes his life and how he helped end apartheid.

6.  LONG WALK TO FREEDOM by Nelson Mandela ( ) - the sanitized personal account of how he turned from terrorism to statesmanship, and partnered with F. W. de Klerk (see 5 above) to end apartheid.  He and de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

Those are only a few out of many possible suggestions.  1, 3 and 4 will give a raw, unvarnished portrayal - essential, IMHO, to grasp the reality of apartheid.  2, 5 and 6 will give a more factual, balanced approach from three different perspectives.

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