The South Africa Reader

Duke University Press Books, December 2013

Clifton Crais & Thomas V. McClendon (Eds)

632 pages


The South Africa Reader is an extraordinarily rich guide to the history, culture, and politics of South Africa. With more than eighty absorbing selections, the Reader provides many perspectives on the country’s diverse peoples, its first two decades as a democracy, and the forces that have shaped its history and continue to pose challenges to its future, particularly violence, inequality, and racial discrimination. Among the selections are folktales passed down through the centuries, statements by seventeenth-century Dutch colonists, the songs of mine workers, a widow’s testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and a photo essay featuring the acclaimed work of Santu Mofokeng. Cartoons, songs, and fiction are juxtaposed with iconic documents, such as ‘The Freedom Charter’ adopted in 1955 by the African National Congress and its allies and Nelson Mandela’s ‘Statement from the Dock’ in 1964. Cacophonous voices – those of slaves and indentured workers, African chiefs and kings, presidents and revolutionaries – invite readers into ongoing debates about South Africa’s past and present and what exactly it means to be South African.

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