pages 7 - 21


Foreword to the English Edition

  This scientific treatise, which was first published in German under the title Südafrika vor der Revolution?  in 1973, is a revised and enlarged version of my doctoral dissertation entitled "The Influence of Marxism on the National Liberation Movements in South Africa with Special Reference to Trotskyism and Stalinism", submitted to the University of Frankfurt on Main in 1970.

   Chapter II to VI of this work were written between 1968 to 1970 without the possibility of field-work and therefore had to be based on a thorough study of relevant materials available in West European and North American university libraries. Chapter I and VII have been added to the German edition.

   For editorial reasons and because of the time factor, but also in view of what Ernst Bloch calls "the darkness of the living moment", it has not been possible to deal with recent international events in Portugal, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola and elsewhere in anything but a summary fashion. From the vantage point of scientific analysis the tumultuous happenings on the African continent between 1970 and the present day would certainly have required an additional chapter.

   This book is in the first place addressed to the South African revolutionaries who are attempting to build a free democratic order in South Africa, as well as to African students in the Social and Historical Sciences who are expected to make their own valuable contribution to African emancipation, both in theoretical inquiry and practical politics.

   Africa’s „wretched of the earth“ (Fanon), in their emancipatory endeavours aimed at overcoming the inhuman condition of underdevelopment, have a concrete, clearly identifiable interest - to view their history in terms of social awareness not as a frozen eternity of the past, but as an anticipated future, which yet remains to be shaped, or as a present fashioned by the work of man.


   Walking „with upright gait“ as a rational African always presupposes constructive criticism, in addition to self-criticism. This truism also ought to apply to the numerous legitimate (or even self-appointed) leaders of South African national emancipation movements, all the more so since the reality of apartheid is undoubtedly reflected in all emancipatory endeavours of South Africa, as illustrated by a multiplicity of liberation movements, all of which necessarily have their historical justification. Neither the African National Congress (ANC) nor the Unity Movement of South Africa (UMSA) are historically qualified to lay claim to hegemonic status of sole representation. In the final analysis this would be tantamount to an „apartheid of liberation“.

It is an undeniable fact, that, due to a certain lack of synchronization in South African history, which logically has produced different levels of political awareness in the various population groups, the numerous emancipation movements differ widely, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in their social and revolutionary impact. The fact, that some political organizations, which have been in existence for decades, may be described as backward and prone to political manipulation despite their numerical strength, cannot be ascribed to racial or mutageneous causes, but to concrete factors of socialization such as the life in reserves, „Bantu education“, press censorship, etc. Any political organization which historically reflects the subjective and objective needs of the oppressed working masses and tries to satisfy them in the present reality by means of revolutionary social action, stands a genuine chance, even in South Africa, of continuing the Socialist tradition of Amilcar Cabral’s PAIGC.

   It goes without saying that this work is not addressed to dogmatists, chauvinists or opportunists, and it will therefore be impervious to such aspersions as „Trotskyite“, „anti-Soviet“, „communist“, „anti-ANC“, „pro-UMSA“, which are mere unscientific extrapolations.

   In the course of the liberation process there is a need not only for the official history of South Africa to be rewritten, but particularly for certain notions which have gained currency in the Social Sciences, e.g. „Bantu“, „Bushman“, „Negro“, „Non-European“ etc., to be stripped of their colonial or Neo-Fascist connotation, or even for an entirely new terminology to be evolved. By and large I have used the designation „Africans“ - a term often restricted to the Blacks - as a collective term covering the Blacks (over 15 million), Coloureds (about 2.5 million), Indians (about 600.000) and Malays (over 50.000).*

* Figures according to the 1970 census.


In South Africa itself the term „Blacks“ tends to take more and more the same meaning as „Africans“ in the sense spelt out in the foregoing. Notions such as „Europeans“, „Whites“, „Boers“, „Britons“, etc. are used to denote the white population (about 3.8 million) of South Africa. In the absence of an exact class analysis of South Africa, terms such as „white proletariat“, „black peasantry“, „white colonial bourgeoisie“ etc. are only used as make-shift categories.

   In view of the special subject of this book, the political developments among the Coloureds, Indians, or Malays are only given marginal treatment. As „Africans“ striving for emancipation they are, however, an integral part of the subject of revolution in South Africa and will thus be dealt with at some length.

   There have been so far only a few fleeting attempts at evolving a revolutionary theory - which is a conditio sine qua non  for any successful guerrilla praxis geared to a given situation - within the peripheral Capitalism of South Africa. Such an attempt presupposes, among other things, a precise knowledge of present-day Imperialism and dependence theories, as well as of the socio-economic reality of Africa. Through their liberation struggle the South African revolutionaries in this imperialist sub-centre (also referred to as a „subsidiary metropolis“) are able to supply valuable praxis oriented contributions to the tactics and strategy of emancipation in highly industrialized societies. This scientific treatise should be understood as a modest contribution towards formulating a social theory, or more precisely a „theory of underdevelopment“, for South Africa.

For the advancement of this work in the form of scholarly advice, significant references and constructive criticism, I wish to thank above all my academic teachers, Professor Ernst Bloch (University of Tübingen) and Professor Iring Fetscher (University of Frankfurt on Main). I also owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Franz Ansprenger (Free University of Berlin) and Professor Ludwig Helbig (University College of Education, Ludwigsburg) for their suggestions, creative discussions and support. Last but not least, however, the praxical solidarity and concrete interest of my German and South African comrades-in-arms and my Political Science students at the Darmstadt Fachhochschule in the Federal Republic of Germany, have furthered and constructively influenced the first draft, revision, and supplementation of this book, leading to its present form.

Frankfurt/Main, Easter 1976.                                               Franz  J. T. Lee



Second Foreword to the English Edition

As has been stated in the first foreword, written in 1976, at the time of Soweto and the Black Consciousness Movement, this work had been started in 1968, nearly 15 years ago. Due to the fact that the universal principle, "everything changes", also applies to this book and its author, it would be falsifying history to change its essence. In any case, applying the dialectical method, and the principles of dialectics, truth is not absolute, what was true yesterday, could be false tomorrow. This work is a result of revolutionary theory-praxis, and as such I offer it to our readers as an historic document, whose essential aspirations have not been realized as yet, and it has much to offer our comrades to assist them to follow the correct path of world revolutionary praxis.

Now, in 1983, South Africa is still on ‘the eve of social change’, but new latencies and tendencies have been set free, and the possibility of human emancipation from apartheid is more realistic than ever. A critical analysis of the historic events since Soweto would necessitate another book, but fortunately, over the last decade, excellent socialist analysis have been published, contrary to the pre-Sharpeville period, which very adequately could assist to bring this work up to date.

Meanwhile Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have achieved political independence, based on economic dependence, and the success of the Namibian and South African revolutions, more than ever, depends on Soviet military assistance. What has been stated in Chapter 7 C., as early as 1970, still remains the pertinent question in South Africa:

„ ... a revolution initially conceived as a class struggle could easily degenerate into a race war pregnant with catastrophe. It will therefore be one of the most difficult tasks of a South African revolutionary party to design its programme of political enlightenment in such as a way as to prevent the race struggle in South Africa from superseding the class struggle and to vouchsafe their dialectical interconnection.“

That „revolutionary party“, in a true revolutionary sense, as expounded by Marx, Lenin or Trotsky, is still in embryo in South Africa, and the South African Revolution has still a long way to go, to become an intrinsic part of the African, and finally, the World Revolution.

Relevant contributions of the author to this work can be read in the following essays and papers:
    1. „El Porvenir Político de Zimbabue“ (El Nacional (Caracas), 27.02.1980);
    2. „Zimbabue: Al Amanecer de la Independencia comienza la Hora de la
        Esperanza“ (ibid., 22.03.1980);
    3. „La Política Exterior de EE.UU. en Africa Austral“ (ibid., 01.07.1980);
    4. „The  National  Question  in  South  Africa“  (Review of International
        Affairs, (Belgrade), 15.03.1980);
    5. „South Africa’s Nuclear Build-Up“, (ibid., 15.03.1980);
    6. „Raíces históricas y socio-económicas de la ideología del ‘racismo’:
        Sudáfrica y Guyana“, in Guyana Hoy (ed. R. G. de Romero, Corpoandes,
        Mérida, Venezuela, 1982);
    7. „Proletarian Internationalism, which  Special Reference to the South
        African Revolution“, Paper delivered to the Marx Centenary Conference,
        Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, March 14-19, 1983.

    Reflections concerning the present stage of guerilla warfare in South Africa, and the technology of revolution, have been given in an interview, published in the „Cuadernos del Tercer Mundo“ (Mexico) of December, 1982.

Many things have been said and done many times, but each time they were again said or done, they were different and their authors have changed, too. In this revolutionary spirit, I hand over this work of youth to a revolutionary youth, who are the precursors of a Revolutionary Renaissance of the 21st Century.

July 31, 1983.
Port Harcourt, Nigeria.


Chapter 1: Political Literature on South Africa.

A:   Publications in the Federal Republic of Germany.

     The race or class conflict in the Republic of South Africa has become so strongly polarized in the last few decades, that neither protagonists nor opponents of apartheid are hardly even short of motivations to give vent to their apologetic or indignant feelings through both the spoken and written word. For this reason there exists sufficient political literature on the politics of apartheid in the English-speaking countries. Only during the last decade has this topic also attracted increasing attention in this country, prompted by the rapidly growing economic interest of the Federal Republic of Germany in Southern Africa.

     The literature of this topic which has so far appeared in German falls into two main categories: pro-  and anti-apartheid. On the one hand there are published numerous indictments, on the other even more writings in defence of apartheid (1) : Although its intentions are laudable, the critical literature is restricted to attacks on the system of the master race and to pointing out its brutality and inhumanity, thus testifying to the authors' lack of prejudice; in the final analysis, however, it does not provide any stringent, historical and politico economic analysis of South African society, failing in particular to come to grips in a scientific and critical manner with the concrete theories and the practice of African movements engaged in the social revolution.

     The majority of "experts on South Africa", recognized as scholars and scientists all over Western Europe and North America, adopt an unpolitical and moralizing stance, taking refuge in pedantry and sophistry.

1 Cf. in this context the reviews of selected books on South Africa by Heribert Adam and Jürgen Harrer in Das Argument, Afrika zwischen Imperialismus und Sozialismus, Berlin. 12. Jhg., Nov. 1970, No. 718, p. 603-609. A summary of the West German interests in the Republic of South Africa can be found in: Ruth First, Jonathan Steele, Christabel Gurney, The South African Connection: Western Investment in Apartheid. (Harmondsworth: Penguin African Library), 1973, p.137-141.


In actual fact they only attempt to defend the colonial fascist system in South Africa in order to give a new lease of life to the status quo, for it can hardly be expected that the presentation of the "race problem" as a "tragedy", "fateful question" or an "earthly paradise" should be adequate to illuminate, let alone eliminate, the intensely dramatic problems of an historical development stretching over a period of more than three hundred years.
     The Boer or Boerophile authors cherish such categories as "objectivity", "homeland", "God chosen people", "custodians of Western civilization", "racial purity", "separate development" or "Christian Nationalism".
 Most of the German authors are even more uncritical than the Boer ones. (2)  Hans Walther Hartmann, e.g., pretends to offer us "an open word about apartheid" with the result, that he chews the cud of the standard arguments supplied a hundredfold by the South African government without venturing a single new analysis worth mentioning of the problems involved. Another one, Peter Kleist, has set himself the life-time task of invoking the "Communist danger" in South Africa. The official South African publications in German, a major part of the Federal German press, and the brochures of private investors depict South Africa as a "land bathed in sunshine" for the following reasons:
 - Its climate, temperate and steady, is among the world's finest. People go
   for picnics with "Braaivleis", they make excursions and organize
   open air shows by day and night. A country for the gourmet, studded with
   good hotels.
 - South Africa opens new horizons for travelling. A land of contrasts in
   romantic juxtaposition to the wholesome atmosphere of European culture,
2 Cf. Hans Walther Hartmann, Südafrika. Geschichte - Wirtschaft - Politik (Stuttgart: W. Kolhammer. 1968); Peter Kleist, Südafrika, Land für Weiss und Schwarz (Göttingen: K. W. Schütz, 1963); Kurt Peter Klarfeld,Südafrika. Ein Farbbildwerk (Flensburg; Klarfeld Verlag, 1959). Also see the publication by Count Dönhoff, Drascher, Schütte, Rhodie, Hans Jenny and others.


    where whites can enjoy looking at the fascinating life of the happy , peaceful
    natives. The Bantus, who function as picturesque extras amidst the exotic flora
    and fauna of South Africa, beam, sing and smile beatifically.
 -  South Africa is an investor's country, a country of exports, a buoyant
    subsidiary metropolis, a Capitalist country of the top-notch variety. In a
    nutshell, South Africa is a pure adventure.

     The political conclusions emanating from this image of society are, among others, that the policy of racial segregation is South Africa's ultima ratio, that the Africans do not contribute "with a whit of creative intellectual energy" to the country's prosperity, and that the failure of apartheid would spell "immeasurable disaster".

     Two German authors, who differ to some extent from those proponents of  Apartheid, attempt to analyse the racist society of South Africa by means of scientific sociological criteria. Heribert Adam (3) in his analysis uses three conceptual schemes: the theory of colonial Imperialism, the theory of Fascism and the model of totalitarianism. This is how he comes, among other things, to the conclusion, that South Africa is a "settler colony", a "democratic police state", and then goes on to pose the question how a racist society, ridden with such deep-seated conflicts, is able to function at all. He answers it by analysing this "new form of manipulated totalitarian domination" sociologically and showing that the system possibly embodies "one of the most effective patterns of national, oligarchic domination". But it is exactly in this approach that Adam's analytical weakness is laid bare. Although some of his theories might hold true as far as South Africa is concerned, their generalizing projection onto other modern forms of society is extremely questionable.

3 Heribert Adam, Südafrika. Soziologie einer Rassengesellschaft (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1969). English edition: Modernizing Racial Domination. The dynamics of South African Politics (Berkeley / Los Angeles / London: University of California Press 1971), reviewed by the author in Die dritte Welt, Cologne, No. 3, 1973, p., 355 sq. This review shows that Heribert Adam does not in any way defend the interests of the oppressed African population but turns out to be merely a defender of apartheid in a bourgeois democratic sheepskin, a typical "seminar Marxist". Cf. his review of Südafrika vor der Revolution? in: Die dritte Welt, op.cit., p.35.


 It is sheer short-sightedness to maintain that under totalitarian types of authority the social contradictions inherent in the present late phase of capitalism can "by no means become resurgent any more". The stringency of many of Adam's theses cannot be disputed from a scientific point of view, but nonetheless we are far from sharing his resigned attitude vis-a-vis the South African revolution. "In contrast to these predictions, this study attempts to show that revolutionary change in South Africa - with mutual show of force exceeding the degree of coercion implicit in repressive laws - is unlikely to occur in the near future." (4)

     We can be grateful to Adam for having disillusioned many activists, pseudo revolutionaries and "guerrillas" with regard to the imminence of the revolution. However, a social revolution is not an annual event but a product of the laws of social development, which becomes a real possibility only through the conjunction of certain national and international historical factors, both objective and subjective. It is the task of this book to attempt an elucidation of these factors in their "latency" and "tendency" as defined by Ernst Bloch. Only in this way can we erase the nihilistic, almost fatalistic image of society painted by Adam for the benefit of the oppressed Africans.

     Adam goes even further to stress the integrative elements of apartheid policy and economic prosperity in South Africa. He states, "In South Africa there happens collectively what in psychoanalytic theory has become known, in Anna Freud's phrase, as 'identification with the aggressor'." As regards South Africa's economic growth, it should be observed that the growth rate has at no time modified the distribution of wealth between white and black. In like manner, the thesis that the Government's retribalization policy has been totally internalized by the Africans, lacks any foundation in fact. According to Adam, there exists no corporate feeling, no solidarity among them. At the same time, however, Adam registers opposite tendencies (and his book contains several such contradictions): the necessity of police terror, the disintegration of any consciousness of what is right and wrong in law, and the mounting African nationalism. The main defect of these analyses is the fact, that they are limited to judgements pertaining to

4  H. Adam, Modernizing Racial Domination ... op.cit.; p.15.


individual aspects. Adam's psychological, economic and political reflections remain isolated and thus produce their own inexplicable contradictions. From his choice of theoretical categories, which identify him as a product of the "Frankfurt School", it can, however, easily be inferred, that he considers the prospects for an alternative solution capable of transcending the system extremely bleak, if indeed he acknowledges their mere existence. He is, therefore, bound to characterize the policy of apartheid as an "end-means-rationality"; according to him, the purpose of "smooth control over cheap labour" (5) has been achieved, and the homestead of bondage completed. Theodor W. Adorno's concept of the "totally administrated prostrate society" is invoked and applied to South Africa.

     Bettina Decke (6) systematically tries to derive the system of apartheid directly from its structural link with British imperialism. She thus goes beyond the analysis of many authors who present the thesis, that South Africa's institutionalized racism is a product of the Boer petty bourgeoisie which refuses to be integrated into capitalism. She rightly detects traces of the British policy of divide et impera in its Boer varieties of baasskap or apartheid. In this wise she proves, that racism in South Africa functions as an instrument to defend political domination and material wealth, or foreign investors, and that the main conflict resides in the contradiction between the private appropriation of the means of production by the whites and the social production of this wealth by the black majority.

     The social conflicts which imperialism "generated by establishing capital and labour-intensive extractive industries in South Africa", the narrow-minded economic development as well as the "development of finishing industries pushed forward by the state" (7) led to the extreme socio-economic polarization of the working population which today can only be maintained by police terror.

5 H. Adam, Südafrika... op.cit., p. 81
6 Bettina Decke, Industrialisierung und Herrschaft in Südafrika (Neuwied / Berlin: Luchterhand, 1972). Cf. also Bettina Decke, "Apartheid und sozioökonomische Entwicklung in Südafrika" in: Afrika heute, Bonn, 11/12, November 1974 / February 1975, pp. 35-40, and Bettina Decke / Tüllmann, Betrifft: Rhodesien. Unterdrückung und Widerstand in einer Siedlerkolonie. (Frankfurt am Main, Mega 1974)
7 Bettina Decke, op. cit., p. 5


It thus becomes obvious, that there can be only one solution for the oppressed African majority in South Africa: emancipatory counter violence. Since Decke has limited herself in her book to a sociological analysis of the relationship between industrialization and domination in South Africa, she does not explicitly arrive at this conclusion, despite sporadic hints. In view of the fact that she negates in no way the possibility of liberation, her work, in contrast to Adam's analysis, is a welcome supplementation to the present study.

B: On the Historiography of the South African Liberation Movements

     There exists at the present moment no thorough scientific analysis of the South African liberation movements dealing systematically with all the political, social and religious factors, which have influenced them. Obviously this subject is not treated in South African schools and universities from the viewpoint of the Africans. Since 1800, various history books written by Boers, Englishmen and Africans have been reflecting the following interpretation of South African history:
 a) a British colonial one
 b) a British imperialist one
 c) a Boer Republican one
 d) a British liberal one
 e) an African revolutionary one

     Apart from the last two versions, South African historiographers in general tend to deal mainly with the history of the Europeans in South Africa. The social role of "non Europeans" and the economic, cultural and psychological aspects of their societies were only marginally treated. As late as the beginning of this century, the favourite image, under which the Africans were depicted in works of colonial history, was that of blood-thirsty cannibals, wild barbarians, cruel pagans, cattle thieves, vagabonds and aggressors. (8)

8 Sidney R. Welch, a past master of this type of historiography, defined the native African population in the following terms: "truculent Kafirs", "most unpleasant tribes" "aggressive natives", "barbarians", "like monkeys", "like apes".
Cf. S.R. Welch, Portuguese Rule and Spanish Crown in South Africa, 1581-1640 (Cape Town and Johannesburg 1950), pp. 80, 86, 89, 92, 93, 96.


Typical examples of the school of British colonial apologists are the works of Sidney R. Welch, Alexander Wilmot,  J.C. Chase, W. Holden, G. Gory, E.B. Watermeyer, H. Cloete and George McCall Theal. (9)

     Ever since the Berlin conference (1884), British historians in South Africa mostly dealt with the achievements and expansion of the British Empire. They supported the British annexation of Boer Republics and declared the "war of liberation" of the Boers a "Boer rebellion". The main representatives of this group were H.R. Haggard, John Nixon and A. Wilmot; they were radically anti-Boer and at the same time anti-African. (10) The British liberal interpretation of history is of the greatest interest for the present study, since it blazes the trail for the African revolutionary historiography.

     The British liberals and missionaries very early began to analyse the role of the conquered and integrated Africans in a future colonial capitalist society. Starting from the world economic crisis in 1929, they tried to show, that the history of South Africa is a product of the common social activity of Africans, Boers and English.

     In his book, Bantu, Boer and Briton (1920), W.M. Macmillan attempted to get to the economic root of the colour problem. He depicted the history of South Africa as a process of military subjugation of the Africans, in the course of which they lost their land and cattle, and subsequently were transformed into an urban proletariat deprived of rights, which could only offer its labour for sale. Land and work are the central concepts in Macmillan's historical analyses. It is amazing to see, how closely he approached the later analyses by the African revolutionary historians such as Isaac B. Tabata, Nosipho Majeke or "Mnguni".

9  Cf. A. Wilmot and J.C. Chase, History of the Cape of Good Hope (London 1869).
M. Holden, History of the Colony of Natal, South Africa (London, 1855).
G. Cory, The Rise of South Africa , 6 vols. (London: Longmans, Green, 1910-1940)
E.B. Watermeyer, Three Lectures on the Cape of Good Hope under the Government of the Dutch East India Company (London 1857).
H. Cloete, Five Lectures on the Emigration of the Dutch Farmers (London 1856).
G. McCall Theal, History of South Africa, 1805-1884. 12 vols. (London: Allen and Unwin, 1888-1919).
10  H.R. Haggard, A History of the Transvaal (New York, 1899).
J. Nixon, The Complete History of the Transvaal (London 1885).
A. Wilmot, History of South Africa (London 1901).


 J. S. Marais, a student of Macmillan’s, with his book, "Maynier and the First Boer Republic" (1944) and "The Cape Coloured People, 1652 - 1937" (1939), thoroughly sapped Theal´s authority by disproving many of his interpretations. He also debunked the race prejudices of the British colonial historiographers.
 C. W. de Kiewiet, Eric A. Walker and Alex Hepple have continued this liberal, enlightened tradition into the present. (11) De Kiewiet sums up his main insight as follows:

    "To the black man, not to the white man, does South African history owe its special significance ... The greatest social and economic fact in the history of the century is not gold or diamond mining, nor even agriculture, but the universal dependence upon black labour." (12)

     Alongside this interpretation of history, a Boer Republican version was developed. Its subject is the struggle of the ‘Voortrekkers’ and ‘Republicans’ against nature, British imperialists and ‘black barbarians’. But it also delves into the biographies of national heroes such as Piet Retief or Paul Krüger, and glorifies the mission of the Boers as a ‘people chosen by God’ to bring Christianity to the benighted blacks. The following representatives of this school have to be mentioned: S. J. du Toit, J. F. van Oordt, J. C. Voigt, G. S. Preller and J. H. Malan. (13)

11  Cf. C.W. de Kiewiet, A History of South Africa (London/New York: Oxford University Press, 1957).
Eric A. Walker, A History of Southern Africa (London/New York: Longmans, Green, 1959).
Alex Hepple, South Africa - A Political and Economic History (London: Pall Mall Press, 1966).
F.A. Van Jaarsfeld, New Illustrated History for the Senior Certificate (Johannesburg: Voortrekkerpers, 1969).
N. Wilson and L.Thompson eds., The Oxford History of South Africa. Vol.1 (London: Oxford University Press, 1969).
L. Marquard, The Story of South Africa (London: Faber, 1966).
E.H. Brookes and C. de B. Webb, A History of Natal (Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1965).
12  Cf. C.W. de Kiewiet, The Imperial Factor in South Africa (Cambridge: University Press, 1937), p.1 sq. Also cf. F.A. van Jaarsfeld, The Afrikaner’s Interpretation of South African History, (Cape Town, Simondium Publishers, 1964), p. 116-165.
13  Cf. S.J. du Toit. Die Geskiedenis van ons Land in die Taal van ons Volk, Amsterdam 1877.
J.F. van Oordt, Paul Kruger en de Opkomst der Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek. Amsterdam 1898.
J.C. Voight, Fifty Years of the History of the Republic in South Africa. 1795-1845. (2 Vols.), (London: T.F. Unwin, 1899).
G.S. Preller, Piet Retief, (Pretoria, 1912).
J.H. Malan, Boer en Barbaar, (Amsterdam, 1913).


In 1958, F. A. van Jaarsfeld, professor at the ‘Rand Afrikaans University’, summed up the view of history of the Boer nationalist school as follows:

    "Generally, the Afrikaner’s approach to history is introspective and apologetic. The Bantu has no real place in his image of the past other than as the foe during the Trekker and Republican periods, whilst the role assigned to the English-speaking is much more that of the persecutor of the Afrikaner than that of the builder of the country." (14)

 Taking their cue from the British liberal school, African historians began around 1950 to contribute to South African historiography. As early as towards the end of the First World War, S. M. Molema wrote an ethnographic and historical study of the various indigenous peoples in South Africa. (15) This book, however, having been written in Scotland, generally does not reflect the British liberal point of view. In 1952 the author in a further book entitled "Three Centuries of Wrong" tried to draw a parallel between the Boer and African struggles for freedom. In other writings, he discussed the struggle of the Boers against the British imperialism, against „tyranny and oppression“, and warned his Boer contemporaries from forgetting, that „the subjected and oppressed of today might become the ruler and legislator of tomorrow“. (16)

    Nosipho Majeke and ‘Mnguni’ (17) pursued this view of history with even greater consistency. Their books distinctly show the Marxist imprint. Majeke was close to the „Spartacus Club“; ‘Mnguni’ was a member of the „Fourth International Organization of South Africa“ (FIOSA). Both were influenced by Trotsky’s teaching. They analysed the class struggle in South Africa and its manifestations in terms of social revolution, not considering historical science an end in itself but a basis of action enabling the oppressed to change society.

14  Cf. F. A. van Jaarsveld, paper read at the „Fourth Congress for the Advancement of Philosophy“, 6 February 1958, published in Communications of the University of South Africa,vol.6, Pretoria 1958. Cf. also F.A. van Jaarsveld, New Illustrated History... pp. 65-89.
15  S. M. Molema, The Bantu - Past and Present (Edinburgh: W. Green & Son, 1920).
16  Cf. S. M. Molema, essay in The Bantu World, Johannesburg, 11 October, 1952, and 18 October, 1952. See also by the same author Three Centuries of Wrong  (Cape Town: Melanchton Publishers, 1952).
17  Nosipho Majeke, The Role of the Missionaries in Conquest (Wynberg, Capetown 1952.)
‘Mnguni’, A History of South Africa. 3 vols. (Cape Town: 1952).


    ‘Mnguni’ writes as follows:

"The purpose of this history is to expose the process of conquest, dispossession, enslavement, segregation and disenfranchisement of the oppressed non Europeans of South Africa in order that the oppressed as a whole will understand better how to transform the status quo into a society worth living in." (18)

    Nosipho Majeke, (19) at present a member of the executive of the „Unity Movement“, in analysing the processes set in motion by colonialism and imperialism in South Africa, considers them instrumental in changing both the objective social structure and the consciousness of the Africans, thus tending to transform the objects of imperialist policy into politically conscious subjects:

    "Capitalism has shattered tribalism and destroyed the social relationships that go with it; ... the very forces that destroyed tribalism are welding the people together - people who have common disabilities and common experience and who are inspired with a common aspiration. ... it will be their historic task to build on South African soil a true democracy." (20)

    The first attempts at presenting a history of the South Africa liberation movements were made by Isaac B. Tabata, Edward Roux, and Mary Benson. (21)  I. B. Tabata, formerly a member of the „Spartacus Club“, is now  the leader of the „Unity Movement“. Edward Roux was a member of the SACP and sympathized with the „African National Congress“ (ANC); Mary Benson can be counted among the English liberal school, which dealt exclusively with the history of the „Congress“ movement. The writings of the above mentioned authors are, however, primarily intended to make known, or project, the respective movements to which they lend support and for this reason tend to be sketchy and often one-sided.

18  ‘Mnguni’, op.cit., Introduction, p.1.
19  A pseudonym of Dora Taylor.
20  Nosipho Majeke, The Role of the Missionaries..., p. 140.
21  Isaac B. Tabata, The All African Convention; The Awakening of the People. (Johannesburg: People’s Press, 1950).
Edward Roux, Time Longer Than Rope. (Madison/Milwaukee/London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1966).
Mary Benson, The Struggle for a Birthright. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964).
One of the latest works following this line is: A. Lerumo, Fifty Years. The Communist Party of South Africa. 1921 -1971. (London, Inkululeko, 1971.)


Other authors such as Gwendolen M. Carter, Alex Hepple, Matthew Nkoana, Kenneth Jordaan, F.  Mühlenberg, Leo Kuper, et al., have made valuable contributions to an understanding of the African freedom movement, although their works are also incomplete. (22) Hence it is necessary to make this history as comprehensive as possible. In view of the uncommonly problematic nature of the subject, it cannot, however, lay claim to completeness, let alone impartiality or even aloofness. The subsequent historical sketch should merely serve as a guide-line and a medium expressing the revolutionary impact of Socialist thought on the national liberation movements in South Africa and Namibia.

22  See also the writings by Barbara Rogers, Peter Randall, Colin Legum, Sean Cervasi, Ruth First, Markus Braun, Abdul S. Minty, Rosalynde Ainslie, Hilda Bornstein, Albie Sachs, Francis Wilson, Hans W. Florin, and Ludwig Helbig (see Bibliography).

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