Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. – Vera Nazarian
Here are some books that will offer much in sight in to the history of South Africa and its people.
Books Every South African Should Read – Top 10
#10 – Selected Stories: Nadine Gordimer
In Selected Stories: Nadine Gordimer, the author compiles stories which capture the experiences of the different races in South Africa during the late 1900s. These stories reflected the racial tension that was interwoven into the fabric of South Africa. These works of art are today classics in Africa and all over the world.
#9 – Inside and Out
Poe Jeremy Cronin draws poems from his collections Inside (1983) and Even the Dead (1997). The poems reflect events of twenty years of South African experiences.
#8 – The New Century of South African Poetry
The New Century of South African Poetry is an anthology of poems covers thematic issues from the very beginnings of South Africa to post apartheid. The editor, Michael Chapman, includes poems which even though translated still tell the stories of South Africa’s indigenous inhabitants.
These poems take us through the landscape of South Africa leaving us in awe of the country’s diversity.
#7 –The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902
In 1899, war between the English and Boers of South Africa broke out. The Boers were fighting for their independence from England. The farmers turn soldiers used guerrilla warfare tactics and trench fighting in an attempt to get the better of their opponents.
The author, Fransjohan Pretorius, uses text and pictures to outline the events that took place in The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 and explore the role of blacks in the war.
#6 – Cry, The Beloved Country
In 1948, author Alan Paton published the novel, Cry, The Beloved Country. This novel takes us on journey with Reverend Stephen Kumalo as he ardently searches for his son Absalom in Johannesburg.
Through his eyes one gets a view racial and economic divides that exist in the country. When he eventually finds his son, his son is accused of the murder of Arthur Jarvis, a white crusader for racial justice. He is convicted and sentenced to death.
The book has been adapted to films in both 1951 and 1995. It was even adapted in to a musical called Lost in the Stars in 1949.
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#5 – Disgrace
Disgrace by J.M Coetzee tells the story of David Lurie, a white South African professor. Lurie becomes disgraced after raping one of his female students, Melanie Isaacs. His arrogance causes his ultimate fall from grace and he retreats to his lesbian daughter farm to lick his wounds.
Through a series of events, Lurie evolves as a character and the book ends with a reformed and more mature Lurie.
The book depicts the shifting balance of power that was taking place in post Apartheid South Africa. This emotive book published in 1999 won the Booker Prize and in 2003, the Nobel Prize in Literature.
#4 – A History of South Africa
South African scholar, Leonard Thompson describes the history of South Africa. A History of South Africa recounts the experiences of blacks from the beginning of known in habitation of South Africa to Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki government.
#3 – Tomorrow is Another Country
In Tomorrow is Another Country, renowned journalist, Allister Sparks captures the meetings of the leaders who worked to end apartheid in South Africa. These secret rendezvous started with the meeting between Kobie Coetsee, then minister of justice, and Nelson Mandela in 1985.
Other stakeholders soon joined and some of the places meetings were held include a game lodge, a hotel rooms and a hospital room. The author uses suspense and compelling diction to recount the secrecy of the meetings, the mistrust among the persons involved and later the friendships that developed. Readers will be able to get a view of the most important events that changed the tide.
#2 – Long Walk to Freedom
Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom gives readers an unobstructed view in to the life of Nelson Mandela. The book contains gripping stories of his early life growing up in a village where he was a part of the Thembu dynasty. It further details his induction into politics, his subsequent conviction and the twenty-seven years he spent in prison.
Published in 1994 by Little Brown and Co. the book received in the Alan Paton Award a year later. Mandela himself sold the awarded the film rights to film company that later adapted into a biopic titled Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom. This is one of the books everybody should read.
#1 – The World That Made Mandela
This World That Made Mandela compiled by historian, Luli Callinicos, uses pictures to detail the life of the late great Nelson Mandela. These pictures trace the steps taken by Mandela as he fought tirelessly to end the Apartheid in South Africa. They take us from his village to Roben Island to the dusty streets of the cities to which he traveled.
Readers will find that these pictures bring to life the words written and stories head about Nelson Mandela. His struggles become more vivid and his victories sweeter. This is why this book is on the list of the top ten books every South African should read.
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