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  • From Protest to Challenge, Volume 6: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa, 1882–1990, Challenge and Victory 1980–1990
  • E. Ike Udogu
Gerhart, Gail M. and Clive L. Glaser. 2010. From Protest to Challenge, Volume 6: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa, 1882–1990, Challenge and Victory 1980–1990. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 779 pp. $44.56 (cloth).

From Protest to Challenge, Volume 6: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa, 1882–1990 provides a rich picture of the politicohistoric narratives in South Africa leading to a coup de grâce in the Odyssean saga of the struggle for political and social justice that eventually happened in 1994. The book’s contents offer a liberation of one’s mind from the outcomes of the epic story of Shaka the Zulu, which was about the nineteenthcentury battle for hegemony with Britain in the area.1

The book is made up of two parts, with part one comprising five chapters (reform and repression in the era of P. W. Botha; internal opposition: the battle joined; internal opposition: moving toward deadlock; exile and underground politics, 1980–1988; breaking the deadlock, 1988–1990) and an epilogue. Part two (pp. 217–779) includes impressive primary documents, about which the authors note: “readers who appreciate the value of studying history through primary sources can now move from the appetizing but tiny sample of the documents reproduced here to the vast feast of archival material housed in South Africa, British and American libraries” (p. xxii); a significant list of acronyms; photos that speak volumes about the activities aimed at quashing apartheid; a bibliography; and an index.

Chapter one situates the discourse around the early 1980s, when the policy of apartheid as a modality for the governance of South Africa started to crumble. The leaders in Pretoria were at war with themselves on two fronts: an international battle for statehood in Namibia2 and an internal civil war of sorts. Botha, who succeeded John Vorster as prime minister in January 1980 (p. 4), was determined to establish his imprint on the politics of the republic against the backdrop of enormous external and internal pressures for extinguishing the discriminatory policy of “separate development” of the races. [End Page 100]

Before 1980, there was a fundamental debate on the creation of a tripartite parliamentary system—one for whites, Indians, and coloreds, with the black majority populations marginalized in the scheme because they were to be relegated to their so-called homelands (Transkei, Ciskei, Bophutatswana, etc). This political calculation was supported by the socalled “time-honored principles of apartheid, the most discredited [of which] was the Verwoerdian assumption that most Africans living in ‘White’ cities were just migrant workers—‘temporary sojourners’ whose true homes were in the rural areas” (p. 14). It was clear, in Botha’s contemplation and those of the white populations within the context of the study of ethnic politics in pluralistic societies, that group interests often trump moral principles. In truth, as Alvin Rabushka and Kenneth A. Shepsle have contended, the political debate becomes more confounding and discordant in democratic and pluralistic societies: a sense of communal solidarity tends to intensify ethnic or racial preference so much that, in the struggle for political power, to promise less for one’s group in the name of harmony and accommodation is tantamount to betraying that group’s interest3—and Botha was not about to betray the interest of his white collectivity and fellow compatriots.

In chapter three, Gerhart and Glaser accentuate the discomfiture in the society in 1985 that flowed from rent increases and inadequate support for black schools. Jake Gerwel has affirmed that the educational infrastructure for most blacks was characterized by “neglect and under-provision, with crippling shortages in such basic areas as classrooms, libraries, laboratories and textbooks, together with an under-supply of qualified teachers.”4 In regard to the per-capita spending on black and white pupils, James Moulder has asserted that in “1987 R6.6 billion was spent on schooling for 6.7 million pupils, with R2.6 billion of that money spent on fewer than a million white pupils and R2.5...


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