Raiders of the lost Empire: South Africa's 'English' identity

PRAAG
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 Dan Roodt is a well-known Afrikaner author and commentator in South Africa. In this essay he explores the country's "new" English identity which is founded on the old colonial identity of the nineteenth century when the redcoats invaded the Cape of Good Hope. Althouth there are only 1 million "real" English people in South Africa, thanks to the global Anglo-Saxon Empire, the country is anxious to model itself on present-day England and America. Political correctness and anti-racism are but two of the fads slavishly followed by South Africa's media, academic and political elite. 

Although the country tries to recreate itself as an inverted mirror image of its so-called "apartheid" past, more and more it is looking like a giant bantustan, with casinos and Afro-kitsch shopping centres being built everywhere. But also its English authors and critics still regard England as "home" and aspire to become global sovereign individuals. So no-one is really "South African" anymore. 

Roodt situates the extreme social violence that has characterised South Africa since 1994 also within the ambit of its identity crisis. A society in which fathers are absent, where people speak no defined language but various forms of broken English, will produce the very high murder rates that South Africa has. 

Afrikaners, who have their own centuries-old identity forged within the country, are suffering from the revolutionary new ersatz "English" identity being imposed on everyone. Afrikaans institutions have been appropratiated by mostly white and radical English-speakers regard Afrikaners as foreigners or interlopers in their own country. 

The cause of the revolution in South Africa has been the radical children of conservative British immigrants in the country who were re-educated at the very left-wing universities and so espoused "Boerehaat" or hatred of Afrikaners, along with the ideas of sixties-America and cultural Marxism. 

The author analyses Nelson Mandela's stature in the wider English-speaking world where he is seen is a kind of demi-god or king.
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About the author

 Dan Roodt is an Afrikaner author and commentator. He has published 9 books including this one and resides in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Publisher
PRAAG
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Published on
Aug 25, 2014
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Pages
76
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ISBN
9781920128173
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Africa / South / Republic of South Africa
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This content is DRM protected.
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One of NPR's Great Reads of 2018 An unforgettable portrait of one of the most inspiring historical figures of the twentieth century, published on the centenary of his birth.

Arrested in 1962 as South Africa’s apartheid regime intensified its brutal campaign against political opponents, forty-four-year-old lawyer and African National Congress activist Nelson Mandela had no idea that he would spend the next twenty-seven years in jail. During his 10,052 days of incarceration, the future leader of South Africa wrote a multitude of letters to unyielding prison authorities, fellow activists, government officials, and, most memorably, to his courageous wife, Winnie, and his five children. Now, 255 of these letters, many of which have never been published, provide exceptional insight into how Mandela maintained his inner spirits while living in almost complete isolation, and how he engaged with an outside world that became increasingly outraged by his plight.

Organized chronologically and divided by the four venues in which he was held as a sentenced prisoner, The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela begins in Pretoria Local Prison, where Mandela was held following his 1962 trial. In 1964, Mandela was taken to Robben Island Prison, where a stark existence was lightened only by visits and letters from family. After eighteen years, Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison, a large complex outside of Cape Town with beds and better food, but where he and four of his comrades were confined to a rooftop cell, apart from the rest of the prison population. Finally, Mandela was taken to Victor Verster Prison in 1988, where he was held until his release on February 11, 1990.

With accompanying facsimiles of some of his actual letters, this landmark volume reveals how Mandela, a lawyer by training, advocated for prisoners’ human rights. It reveals him to be a loving father, who wrote to his daughter, “I sometimes wish science could invent miracles and make my daughter get her missing birthday cards and have the pleasure of knowing that her Pa loves her,” aware that photos and letters he sent had simply disappeared.

More painful still are the letters written in 1969, when Mandela—forbidden from attending the funerals of his mother and his son Thembi—was reduced to consoling family members through correspondence. Yet, what emerges most powerfully is Mandela’s unfaltering optimism: “Honour belongs to those who never forsake the truth even when things seem dark & grim, who try over and & over again, who are never discouraged by insults, humiliation & even defeat.”

Whether providing unwavering support to his also-imprisoned wife or outlining a human-rights philosophy that resonates today, The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela reveals the heroism of a man who refused to compromise his moral values in the face of extraordinary punishment. Ultimately, these letters position Mandela as one of the most inspiring figures of the twentieth century.

 

From The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela

 

“A new world will be won not by those who stand at a distance with their arms folded, but by those who are in the arena, whose garments are torn by storms & whose bodies are maimed in the course of contest.”

“I am convinced that floods of personal disaster can never drown a determined revolutionary nor can the cumulus of misery that accompanies tragedy suffocate him.”

“My respect for human beings is based, not on the colour of a man’s skin nor authority he may wield, but purely on merit.”

“A good pen can also remind us of the happiest moments in our lives, bring noble ideas into our dens, our blood & our souls. It can turn tragedy into hope & victory.”

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