n Historia - The anatomy of a South African genocide : the extermination of the Cape San peoples, M. Adhikari : review article

Volume 57, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



The first book entirely devoted to the issue of genocide in relation to the San peoples of southern Africa is Miklós Szalay's (1995), a slim and well-illustrated volume which as the author himself admits, is actually a chapter from a larger work published in German over a decade earlier, in 1983. Szalay's main thesis is that the San were not exterminated but rather that under the pressure of farmer violence and missionary work they were assimilated into the labour-hungry colony. According to Szalay, the notion that they were exterminated is a "stereotype" that runs against the documentary evidence. As Adhikari (p 85) states, Szalay's "arguments do not stand up to critical scrutiny". Rather than weakening it, the documents tend to reinforce the case for systematic extermination while missionary records show that all missions to the San, whether north or south of the Orange River, ended in failure and that the stations established in their territory either closed down or their proselytising efforts very soon focused on another group.

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