Friday, August 8, 2014

Saul Dubow's "Apartheid, 1948-1994"

Born and brought up in Cape Town, Saul Dubow has degrees from the universities of Cape Town and Oxford and is now Professor of African History at Queen Mary, University of London. He has published widely on the development of racial segregation and apartheid in all its aspects: political, ideological, and intellectual.

Dubow applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Apartheid, 1948-1994, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Apartheid 1948-1994 opens chapter 4, entitled `Apartheid Regnant’. It begins to sketch out the decade of the 1960s, the moment of `high’ apartheid, as white supremacy reached its height. Following the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, when black anti-pass protesters were shot by panicked policemen, the leading liberation movement made the decision that peaceful protest had no future. Several groupings, most notably the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, embarked on campaigns of sabotage and armed resistance. By 1964, however, the state had driven the liberation movements underground and into exile. Economic prosperity was a feature of the 1960s with whites as the major beneficiaries. By the end of the decade whites, who numbered less than one-fifth of the total population, commanded around 75% of the country’s share of income. New consumer spending, modelled on American patterns, encouraged the development of ranch-style houses in the white suburbs. These households were maintained by poorly treated servants known as `maids’ who had no rights to live in white areas without a pass. White society appeared impregnable. But deep social tensions were giving rise to new forms of political expression as the ideology of `black consciousness’ began to capture the imagination of young black students based in seminaries and in the second-rate `tribal’ universities that were created by the apartheid state to satisfy its fantasies of ethnic-cultural autonomy and rigid separation. The continuing dependence of the growing white middle class on cheap and exploitable black labour rendered the system of apartheid vulnerable. Externally, the killings at Sharpeville made `apartheid’ anathema. In the age of decolonisation, anti-racism, and international human rights, South Africa came to typify everything that liberals and socialists stood against. Anti-apartheid became a global social movement in the 1960s. Its enemies were not only the South African government, but also western governments which, in the context of the Cold War, chose to appease apartheid’s rulers on account of their pro-capitalist and firm anti-communist stance. The approach to apartheid in this book focusses not only on why apartheid came to an end, but also on why it persisted for so long. In explaining this, we need to take account not only of resistance to apartheid, but also on the capacity of the system to adapt, to command compliance, and to retain legitimacy in the eyes of its supporters.
Learn more about Apartheid, 1948-1994 at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue