The post-Union, pre-apartheid era, which spanned the years 1910-1948, is one of the most undervalued and misunderstood phases in South Africa's political history. It is often treated as part of the "inevitable" march towards apartheid - or it is contrasted as a period of relative moderation, under leaders such as Smuts, in comparison to what was to follow. Neither of these perspectives does any justice to the only period in twentieth-century South Africa when no single political party could dominate parliamentary politics, a time when the future was anything but certain.
That Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli (1898-1967) is increasingly one of the most frequently invoked South African political leaders speaks both to current perceptions of leadership crisis, and to a burgeoning reclamation of the past seen most prominently in memoirs but also in new histories of peoples and places once ignored. The intersection between local and national, and memoir and history can be a fertile one for understanding the past in depth and texture.
Gerrit Schutte, emeritus-professor in Geskiedenis aan die Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, is een van die gesaghebbendste en produktiefste Nederlandse historici wat die betrekkinge tussen Nederland en Suid-Afrika betref. Hy het al talle boeke oor hierdie onderwerp geskryf en sy publikasies is feitlik sonder uitsondering positief deur resensente ontvang. Hierdie jongste publikasie van Schutte bou voort op die volgende publikasies van hom: Nederland en de Afrikaners: Adhesie en Aversie (1986); De Roeping ten Aanzien van het Oude Broedervolk: Nederland en Zuid-Afrika, 1960-1990 (1993); en De Vrije Universiteit en Zuid-Afrika, 1880-2005 (2005).
Since the 1940s, historians have done thorough research on various themes relating to Afrikaner history. One aspect which has however remained unexplored is the history of Afrikaners in Angola during the mid-twentieth century. This book provides a thorough investigation of these so-called Angolan Afrikaners, their circumstances and activities, and the challenges they faced in Angola during the Portuguese administration.
The book under review is only concerned with the war that Portugal fought in Angola from 1961 to 1974. It provides a relatively well-written and well-ordered politico-military account of the origins of the conflict, of the outbreak of the war in 1961 and then of the ways in which the Portuguese dealt with northern Angola, reducing it to what the author calls a "human desert" (p 97), of the relatively low-intensity war from 1962 to 1966, of the MPLA's campaign in eastern Angola from 1967 and of how the Portuguese again were able to counter this in the years that followed. Only when he comes to the background to the coup in Portugal in 1974 does Van der Waals spend any space relating what was happening in Angola to the wars that Portugal was also fighting elsewhere in Africa. He then suggests that it was what happened in Guinea-Bissau that was mainly responsible for the Portuguese withdrawing from their African possessions.
Beer, Sociability, and Masculinity in South Africa by Anne Kelk Mager focuses on the history of beer drinking in South Africa by African and white South Africans from the mid-twentieth century to the present. The introduction gives a detailed historical overview of the drinking of alcohol in South Africa - an activity that has been inextricably associated with the social, cultural, economic and political history of the region.
Fred and Sarah Carneson were prominent anti-apartheid activists from the late 1940suntil the collapse of the apartheid state in 1990. They were also dedicated communists and fervently believed that international communism would unite the human race and build an equal, just and peaceful society for everyone. They were prepared to sacrifice themselves for this cause. As a result they did not hesitate to confront the might of the apartheid state. The title of the book reflects their political affiliation. Nelson Mandela referred to the new South Africa as the "rainbow nation" and for Lynn Carneson, her parents and fellow communists became the "red" in this rainbow, the colour symbolising communism.
In Reclaiming the L-Word: Sappho's Daughters out in Africa, Alleyn Diesel offers an edited collection of essays that seeks to shed light on the variegated texture of lesbians' lived experiences in contemporary South African society. From the start of her introductory chapter, Diesel is explicit about the motivation that led her to commission these essays. She is concerned about the erasure of lesbians from mainstream historical narratives. She correctly notes that even after the increasing focus on excavating women's histories that accompanied the second wave of feminism, lesbians' stories remain vulnerable to elision in the work of feminist historians. Diesel expresses her discomfort with the marginalisation of lesbians' narratives without an attitude of blaming either historians in general or feminist historians in particular.
"Afrikaner, quo vadis?" The former prime minister of the Union of South Africa, D.F. Malan, asked this question during the inauguration of the Voortrekker Monument on 16 December 1949. "Where are you going?" This question was seen by the prolific historian, F.A. van Jaarsveld, as central to the understanding of Afrikaner identity, for the answer is shaped by the choices made during times of crisis. The consequences of these choices shape how people react to a crisis and this reaction inevitably becomes part and parcel of identity. If we follow this line of thinking, and agree with Hermann Giliomee that apartheid was a radical survival plan, a choice born in a time of crisis, then Afrikaner identity is inescapably linked to apartheid. Consequently, in a world which has proclaimed apartheid to be a crime against humanity, the question raised by Malan remains crucial to many who still call themselves "Afrikaners".