The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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"Serpentine queues, some stretching for kilometres, showed that despite the bombs of the past few days, the country's democratic resolve was in good shape. There was plenty of patience and spirits were high. By the time they voted, many had waited for hours. Most had waited a lifetime...."

In the long history of southern Africa, the last decade stands as an extraordinary turning point. It is a decade that redefines a society formed through the conflicts and bonds of centuries. This book celebrates this decade, the first ten years of South African democracy, in part by seeking to provide some depth to the popular understanding of the history that preceded it, and made it possible.

It arises from the Ministry of Education's concern that the values of the present era, and the realisation of the ideals of democracy, equality and non-racialism, cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of their long gestation in the tumult of the national story. On this the tenth anniversary of the advent of democracy, South Africans of all ages are presented with the opportunity to reflect on their immediate, but also their distant, past.

The objective is to refresh or instil a sense of the idealism and the values that underpinned the defining trajectory of the struggle for liberty, without overlooking the complex or unpalatable features of the past - the acknowledgement of which is essential for a fuller understanding of the present. So, while the scope of the book takes in the broadest sweep of history, from the very emergence of modern humanity in southern Africa, it is thematically focused on the struggle for, and triumph of, freedom. Every Step of the Way traces the origins of the resistance and the idealism that ultimately assured South Africans their freedom and raises provocative questions about the roles of individuals in directing or going along with history. Speeches and statements of the famous and the powerful are contrasted with the memories of the obscure and the downtrodden, the imagery of poetry and song and the immediacy of newspaper reports are interwoven with the insights and interpretations of leading historians and the first-hand accounts of people who left a record of their world.

When South Africans crossed their ballots in the country's first democratic elections on 27 April 1994, they also collectively crossed the line that divided a long, complex and often bitter past from a future of hope, equality and common nationhood. The challenges they faced were no less daunting, but now, for the first time, they could confront them together. The narrative of the long journey to this moment is a compelling one, celebrating the tenth anniversary of that first democratic election, because what we choose to remember from our yesterdays is a way of recommending choices for our tomorrows.

Open Access

Product information

Format : 168mm x 240mm
Pages : 344
ISBN 10 : 0-7969-2061-3
ISBN 13 : 978-07969-2061-4
Publish Year : 2004

Foreword by Professor Kader Asmal
Prologue Fires
Chapter 1 First steps
Chapter 2 Strangers on the shore
Chapter 3 Being in touch
Chapter 4 As far as the eye could see
Chapter 5 Finders keepers
Chapter 6 Sparks from the earth
Chapter 7 Credit to the Crown
Chapter 8 Union spells division
Chapter 9 Hewers of wood, drawers of water
Chapter 10 Armed and dangerous
Chapter 11 Storming the fortress
Chapter 12 End of the beginning
Chapter 13 A free state
Chapter 14 By any means
Chapter 15 When that sunrise comes
Endpiece Remembering the future
Readings
Picture credits
Index

Compiled by the Social Cohesion and Integration research programme of the HSRC for Ministry of Education

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