SOUTH AFRICA: TIME RUNNING OUT by Study Commission on U.S. Policy Toward Southern Africa
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SOUTH AFRICA: TIME RUNNING OUT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The recommendations on US policy toward southern Africa are strong and forcibly put: #1. ""To make clear the fundamental and continuing opposition of the U.S. government and people to the system of apartheid. . ."" But though the Rockefeller Foundation-backed report garnered headlines, as intended (hence no advance copies), it was obviously designed--expertly--to be read, reflected upon, and consulted as well. Directly following the policy guidelines (which include cessation of US investment in South Africa), there comes the first of the book's three groups of interviews. We meet, among diverse others, a migrant worker, living in a Soweto men's hostel (""migrant"" after ten years in an office job), who deems himself ""lucky because I can get a bus sometimes at weekends to see my wife""; and a wine farmer, appreciative of his workers' ""aspirations,"" of black and Coloured ""potential,"" but who nonetheless recoils at sharing: ""where were they when we came here?"" Part I then beans by exploding the ""myth"" that the first white farmers settled ""virgin territory,"" and goes on to trace ""The Road to Apartheid,"" explain its ramifications, describe working and living conditions (health, housing, education), survey the economy, examine the (dependent, fragmented) territorial homelands, assess black pressures and white resistance. Some motifs: ""the distinctions between the Afrikaners and the English-speakers are now blurring""; ""whether [economic] growth alone will result in black political emancipation is a matter of controversy""; the ""growing but reluctant acceptance""--among black activists (an especially fine-honed analysis)--""of the belief that fundamental change will come about only through revolutionary violence."" But: ""white attitudes are not static."" Part II looks abroad--to South African relations with other African states, with the Communist world and the US. Also weighed in is South Africa's production of four strategic materials (chromium, manganese, vanadium, platinum) on which, the report points out, the US can take steps to lessen its dependence. Part II specifically backs up the policy recommendations: why ""special attention"" to South Africa? And: why the choice is not between slow, ""peaceful change"" and sudden upheaval; why South Africa, ""under its white minority government,"" is not a ""bulwark against communism."" For concerned Americans, like shareholders in US corporations doing business in South Africa, there are also precise recommendations. Plus: quietly telling photographs; a number of very useful maps; a glossary, a bibliography, an above-par index. Vitally important for its stand, indispensable as a source.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1981
Publisher: Univ. of Calif. Press