This book explores South Africa’s tumultuous history from the aftermath of the Second Anglo-Boer War to the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on never-before-published documentary evidence – including diaries, letters, eyewitness testimony and diplomatic reports – the book follows the South African people through the battles, elections, repression, resistance, strikes, massacres, economic crashes and health crises that have shaped the nation’s character.
Tracking South Africa’s path from colony to Union and from apartheid to democracy, History of South Africa documents the influence of key figures including Pixley Seme, Jan Smuts, Lilian Ngoyi, H.F. Verwoerd, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, P.W. Botha and Jacob Zuma. The book also gives detailed accounts of definitive events such as the 1922 Rand Revolt, the Defiance Campaign, Sharpeville, the Soweto uprising and the Marikana massacre. Looking beyond the country’s borders, it unpacks military conflicts such as the World Wars, the armed struggle and the Border War. The book explores the transition to democracy and traces the phases of ANC rule, from the Rainbow Nation to transformation to state capture. It examines the divisive and unifying role of sport, the ups and downs of the economy, and the impact of pandemics from the Spanish flu to AIDS and COVID-19.
As South Africa faces a crisis as severe as any in its history, the book shows that these challenges are neither unprecedented nor insurmountable, and that there are principles to be found in history that may lead us safely into the future.