Five interesting books(novels) about the South African Apartheid

South Africa Apartheid

Five interesting books(novels) about the South African Apartheid

Looking to have a peak into the South African Apartheid through the eyes of creative writers? Here are five interesting books(novels) about the South African Apartheid to quench your thirst.

South Africa Apartheid

A Little Background on South Africa and the Apartheid

The Dutch merchants’ presence in South Africa began in the late 17th century after they experienced a shipwreck and had to pitch a tent in the land of Zulu, Xhosa, San, and the Koi people. They found the environment friendly like the ones in Europe, so they began to bring their families in to settle there. 

After a century of conflict with the original black land owners, the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 to cater to the needs of diverse South Africa. The British had come, and other people of European origin, mainly those escaping both religious and Political prosecution, joined the Boers (Afrikaners). The formation of the union birthed parties: the National Party was dominated by the Afrikaners (people of Dutch origin), whereas the British crammed themselves into the South African Party.

Those two main parties oversaw the affairs of South Africa till National Party won the majority of a seat in the Parliamentary in 1948, resulting in the introduction of the Apartheid policy, meaning ‘apart’ in English. Afterward, every racial group in South Africa was governed by different laws, with blacks being pushed to rural reserve areas without social amenities and jobs. The blacks were prevented from seeking jobs in the urbanized areas. There was even an attempt to form a separate country inside South Africa for them, despite them being the majority.

Black South Africans united themselves under the African National Congress (ANC) to fight against this policy, although in reality, there was no unity among them. Consequently, the Apartheid government survived through the 1960s.

80s were chaotic in South Africa as the Apartheid regime was met with brute resistance from all angles. There were international boycotts and civil disobedience at home, and the blacks summed guts to enter cities to look for jobs.

The decline of the Apartheid regime started with the release of Nelson Mandela in the 1990s. Klerk officially ended the Apartheid regime in 1991, and a reconciliation committee was set up to investigate the Apartheid regime crimes after Nelson Mandela became the first black South African president in 1994.


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Apartheid Literature

Several authors, blacks, colored, and whites, had used their writings to shed light on the effects of Apartheid and how successful the reconciliation efforts had become.

Here are some worth reading Apartheid books. Although some of the novels do not mention apartheid directly, they share their themes. Post-Apartheid books do talk about refugees, prison, and exile.


1. Cry, The Beloved Country – Alan Paton (1948)

Cry, The Beloved CountryCry, The Beloved Country was published the exact year the Apartheid policy was introduced in South Africa. Alan Paton, who was against Apartheid, and white, wrote against the regime, drawing his experience from his place of work. Cry, The Beloved Country tells a story of a son of a white farmer, Arthur Jarvis, who spent his life campaigning against the social injustice in South Africa, mainly against the blacks, but, unfortunately, he was murdered by a gang of black burglars. Arthur’s death exposed his father, a wealthy farmer, to the charity works of his son. As a result, he began to use his affluence to bring development to the community.



2. Other Secrets — Farida KarodiaOther Sercrets

Published in 2000, 5 years after a black man had emerged as South African president, Karodia used two characters, mother and daughter, to talk about the pains of Apartheid. The father lived in a struggle but was optimistic that tomorrow would birth an easier life. Other Secrets are one of the good reads on South African apartheid.



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3. My Children! My Africa! – Athol Fugard

My Children, My AfricaHere, the author attacks the boycotting of schools by the African National Congress (ANC), the major resistant Apartheid group constituted by Blacks. In the narrator’s tone, persuading African children to boycott school at the time Apartheid was already on the edge would result in future generations of Africans being ignorant of their fundamental human rights. Fugard goes away from heaping the blame on the dying injustice in South Africa to chastising the ANC for its role in the literacy decline among the majority of blacks in South Africa.




4. When The Rain Clouds Gather — Bessie Head

When The Rain Clouds GatherWhen The Rain Clouds Gather – published in 1978 when the world wasn’t much ready to turn a listening ear to the injustice in South Africa. Head used different characters to tell how problematic it was for a non-white person to survive in South Africa. The book talks about Makhaya, who fled from political-induced prosecution in South Africa to Golema Mmidi, a village in Botswana. He entangled himself with an English agricultural expert who was trying to teach the locals a modern form of farming, but he met wild resistance from the local chiefs and the unfriendly climate, pushing the locals to a brink. Despite all, he remained optimistic about the future.



5. My Traitor’s Heart — Rian Malan

My Traitor's HeartMalan wrote an autobiographical book chronicling his experience in the Apartheid era. Rian Malan left South Africa to settle in the US, despite coming from an influential white clan. He decried the injustice meted out on non-whites in South Africa, so when he couldn’t bear bumping into the corpses and terrifying things on the streets of South Africa, he decided to leave for the US. However, he decided to return to face the injustice and his family at home. Malan’s family migrated to South Africa from Dutch centuries ago. He is from the same family as Daniel Francois Malan, a proponent of Apartheid policy and a Prime Minister of South Africa.




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