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Boeke | Books > Kennisgewings | Notices > English

Saturday Voices at BOEKEHUIS: 28 November


2009-11-27

BOEKEHUIS & Wits University Press invite you to a conversation with Raymond Suttner & David Everatt, author of The Origins of Non-Racialism
White opposition to apartheid in the 1950s
.

How did an African nationalist liberation movement resisting apartheid open its doors to other races and whites in particular,  after decades of suppression by a white government? At what cost to itself? And what did non-racialism mean? Despite our progress since the apartheid years, isn’t our society now more divided along racial lines than ever before?

Where: BOEKEHUIS, Cnr. Lothbury and Fawley streets, Auckland Park

When: Saturday 28 November 2009 at 12:30

RSVP: by Friday 27/11/2009 on 011 482 3609 or boekehuis@boekehuis.co.za

About the book:

The Constitution of post-apartheid South Africa declares the Republic to be ‘a sovereign, democratic state’ founded on ‘human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms; non-racialism and nonsexism.’ After centuries of white domination and decades of increasingly savage repression, freedom came to South Africa far later than elsewhere in the continent – and yet was marked by a commitment to non-racialism. Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet and government were made up of women and men of all races, and many spoke of the birth of a new ‘Rainbow Nation’.
How did this come about? How did an African nationalist liberation movement resisting apartheid – a universally denounced violent expression of white supremacy – open its doors to other races – and whites, in particular? At what cost to itself? And what did non-racialism mean – why could whites, coloureds and Indians not join the African National Congress (ANC) until after 1990, when the ANC was unbanned, but had to remain in racially discrete ‘partners’ – while fighting for a non-racial future? Why could members of all races join the Communist Party and the Liberal Party – but not the ANC?
This book uncovers some of the stories and hidden histories that help explain our past. The book focuses on a talented, brave, but tiny minority of whites – liberals, radicals, communists, Trotskyites, humanists, Christians, idealists – who rejected the growing racism of post-war South Africa and worked to breach the dividing line between black and white. From the Torch Commando, which could mobilise tens of thousands of whites at the beginning of the 1950s, to the Liberal Party and Congress of Democrats, which could boast only a few hundred members by the end of the decade, white activists fought to maintain the vision of racial equality in an increasingly divided society.

Their African nationalist allies fought a harder battle within the ANC and other organisations, under growing pressure from Africanists and others, to keep alive the notion that black and white could struggle together and could live peacefully side by side. Together, black and white activists developed a theory of struggle and ways of mobilising that somehow kept alive the ideal of a non-racial South Africa. The democratic state ushered in after 1994 can be traced back directly to the work they undertook in the 1950s and after.

About the  author:

David Everatt is the Executive Director of the Gauteng City-Region Observatory, a joint project of the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Gauteng Provincial Government.

About Raymond Suttner:

Professor Raymond Suttner is Head of the Walter and Albertina Sisulu Knowledge and Heritage Centre, in the College of Human Sciences of the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria.

He is a scholar but also experienced struggle both legal and illegal from the late 1960s.  After some years in legal struggle, he worked as an underground ANC operative in Durban and Pietermaritzburg from 1971 to 1975.  On capture he was tortured and spent an initial 8 years in prison.  On release, he soon became involved in the United Democratic Front, while simultaneously pursuing underground activities, limited by his occupying public leadership positions.  The State of Emergency saw him again detained for 27 months, 18 of these in solitary confinement between 1986 and 1988.  He was then released into over a year in house arrest before defying his restrictions in August 1989 to temporarily leave the country to attend a meeting related to the onset of negotiations.  His experiences in the underground and prison are covered in the book Inside Apartheid’s Prison.  He is also the author of The ANC Underground.

Suttner has been in the leadership of the UDF, ANC and SACP, though he has been organisationally inactive since 1998. 

Saturday Voices is a series of readings and discussions by authors at Boekehuis It normally lasts 45-60 minutes.

Please notify us if you want to be added to our e-mailing list by mailing to boekehuis@boekehuis.co.za.

Should you be interested in this book or any other books, but cannot make it to our store, we can do electronic transactions and are happy to post books to you. Please contact us on 011 482 3609 in this regard.