FRONTIERS by Noël Mostert

FRONTIERS

The Epic of South Africa's Creation and the Tragedy of the Xhosa People

KIRKUS REVIEW

 At the heart of this megabook from South-African-born Mostert (Supership, 1974) is the moving story of the tragic clash between races--black and white--and cultures--British, Boer, and African-- in a place that for a brief, transcendent moment was a model to the world of racial tolerance and democracy. Beginning with the Portuguese search for a route around the Cape to India, Mostert traces the history of what was to become the Cape Province when South Africa united in 1910. When, in 1652, the Dutch East India Company established a small settlement at the Cape to provide fresh water and provisions for passing ships, it had no intention of founding a colony, let alone a country. But the settlers, who were soon to become the only white tribe of Africa, the Afrikaners, began almost immediately to foray into the interior in search of more land for their cattle. By the mid-18th century, they had advanced far enough up the eastern seaboard to meet the Xhosa, one of the great black tribes of southern Africa. This meeting of two cattle-owning but otherwise immensely different peoples became the crucible for many of the policies and attitudes that shaped the future South Africa. Mostert chronicles in detail the good intentions gone wrong, the ignorance and incompetence, the deeds and misdeeds that followed. Nine wars were fought before peace prevailed in the early 19th century. By that time, all races were entitled to full civil rights and enjoyed a franchise open to all male property-owners, black and white. It was a time of brief hope, extinguished with such tragic consequences in 1910. Despite the daunting length--and weight--and some inevitable repetitiveness, a perceptive and sympathetic portrait of a seminal period in South Africa's history--and one of special interest as Nelson Mandela, a Xhosa prince by birth, begins to take his rightful place in the new South Africa. (Thirty-two pages of photographs; four maps--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 18th, 1992
ISBN: 0-679-40136-9
Page count: 1140pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1992




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