APARTHEID'S REBELS: Inside South Africa's Hidden War by Stephen M. Davis

APARTHEID'S REBELS: Inside South Africa's Hidden War

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Early in this book, a white Johannesburg housewife, nervous over recent riots, says to her black servant, ""At least I can count on you to protect me. . . can't I, Cephas?"" To which Cephas replies, ""Ma'am, you're the first one I'm going to shoot."" This symbolizes the kind of inside hidden war that lies just below the surface of South African life, a hidden war brought vividly to life by Davis, a former US Department of State and Senate staffer who has written extensively in Harper's and various top newspapers on international affairs. Davis spent six years collecting information on the outlawed African National Congress (ANC), including several trips to Africa in which he was able to break through the censorship that clouds South African affairs. In the midst of his research, Davis became the first American journalist to visit the ANC's refugee complex in Tanzania. Out of this comes a book that explains the 50-year history of the Congress, including its early nonviolent phase, as well as its more militant phase in the decade since the Soweto uprising The Congress has slowly but steadily built a finn underground, operating from a network of cells across the various black governments that surround South Africa. From this underground, the militants strike out at businesses and government facilities with bombings and assassinations. But violence, in Davis' mind, is not the ANC's greatest achievement. He finds that to be ""the recruitment of steadily rising numbers of South Africans into the ranks of the hunters and hunted."" Davis doesn't see too much hope for the future: ""South Africa's can only be a Pyrrhic future, in which neither side can muscle the other out of contention, yet neither side can willingly give ground without pain. When peace arrives, it will probably not be through conquest. Rather, it will come grudgingly, and after seasons of bloodshed, as a fruit of exhaustion."" A perceptive, scholarly guide to the guerrilla rebels often overlooked in the great power machinations over South Africa.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press