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"Clifton Crais and Thomas V. McClendon have put together a fascinating and informative book. From the earliest voices of colonial times through the struggle against apartheid and current efforts to find a genuinely democratic, nonracial, diverse identity, the voices are here: the colonizers and the despoilers, the powerful and the powerless, the dissenters and the resisters, the determined and the courageous, the destroyers of hope and the dreamers of dreams. South Africans cannot but recognize themselves. This is a book to study, reference, and return to again and again."—Allan Aubrey Boesak, South African liberation theologian and anti-apartheid activist
"This incredibly thorough volume reveals the complex history of South Africa. Through compelling first-person narratives, fiction, and other historical accounts, The South Africa Reader offers a picture of a complicated and often confounding country that is a study in 'trauma and resilience.' It grapples with the legacy of the past in ways that can help present and future generations build a more promising tomorrow."—Charlayne Hunter-Gault, award-winning journalist, former CNN Johannesburg Bureau Chief, and author of New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance
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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.