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Getting together

Heribert Adam, 14 June 1990

... The extraordinary spectacle of the South African Government and the African National Congress socialising and bantering with each other for the first time needs to be decoded for its psychological implications. Politics is about the manipulation of symbols as a precondition for the exercise of real power. Not only was the ground laid for irreversible negotiations and compromises between two deadly enemies, but the antagonists also established a cordial relationship during three days of talks at the foot of Table Mountain ...

I will make you pay

Heribert Adam: Redeeming Winnie, 5 March 2020

The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela 
by Sisonke Msimang.
Jonathan Ball, 173 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 1 86842 955 4
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Truth, Lies and Alibis: A Winnie Mandela Story 
by Fred Bridgland.
Tafelberg, 311 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 624 08425 9
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... Progressive​ intellectuals in South Africa, when asked what they think of Winnie Mandela, most often respond: it’s a complex story. Complexity is sometimes an excuse for avoiding a principled judgment, an uncomfortable truth. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a victim and a perpetrator of violence. These two books draw opposite moral conclusions from the same life story ...

With or without the ANC

Heribert Adam, 13 June 1991

The Unbreakable Thread: Non-Racialism in South Africa 
by Julie Frederikse.
Indiana, 304 pp., $39.95, November 1990, 0 253 32473 4
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A Democratic South Africa? Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society 
by David Horowitz.
California, 293 pp., $24.95, March 1991, 0 520 07342 8
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Koexistenz im Krieg: Staatszerfall und Entstehung einer Nation im Libanon 
by Theodor Hanf.
Nomos Verlag, 806 pp., September 1990, 3 7890 1972 0
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... South Africa still holds a morbid fascination for outside observers, despite the competition from more old-fashioned Arab autocracies. An astonishingly smooth experiment in social engineering intrigues neo-conservatives. Left-leaning scepties hold their breath lest Mandela and the ANC allow themselves to be co-opted by the white establishment. A stream of earnest political tourists land at Jan Smuts to make the traditional tour from Cape Town to Durban, to arrange appointments with willing but isolated academic pundits and newspaper editors ...

Pretoria gets ready

Heribert Adam, 9 July 1987

Black and Gold: Tycoons, Revolutionaries and Apartheid 
by Anthony Sampson.
Hodder, 280 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 340 39524 9
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The Crisis in South Africa 
by John Saul and Stephen Gelb.
Zed, 245 pp., £6.95, December 1986, 0 86232 692 3
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... It is a depressing fact that minority rule in a modern developed economy can last a long time provided it is sufficiently ruthless. An unjust regime is not necessarily a faltering one. Lacking legitimacy merely increases costs. Contrary to conventional social science wisdom, even such closed states as Syria, Burundi or Poland demonstrate how hated cliques can cling to power despite the manifest disaffection of the majority ...

Apartheid gains a constitution

Keith Kyle, 1 May 1980

Ethnic Power Mobilised: Can South Africa change? 
by Heribert Adam.
Yale, 308 pp., £14.20, October 1979, 0 300 02377 4
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Transkei’s Half Loaf: Race Separatism in South Africa 
by Newell Stultz.
Yale, 183 pp., £10.10, October 1979, 0 300 02333 2
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Year of Fire, Year of Ash The Soweto Revolt: Roots of a Revolution? 
by Baruch Hirson.
Zed, 348 pp., £12.95, June 1979, 0 905762 28 2
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The past is another country: Rhodesia 1890-1979 
by Martin Meredith.
Deutsch, 383 pp., £9.95, October 1979, 0 233 97121 1
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... others to these particular proposals – and the suspect political motives of their authors. Both Heribert Adam and Newell Stultz include able enough summaries of the snags. Indeed, one might dismiss the scheme as preposterous were it not for the extraordinary difficulties inherent the problem itself. At least, as the Afrikaner intellectuals pointed out ...

Into Africa

J.D.F. Jones, 19 April 1990

My Traitor’s Heart 
by Rian Malan.
Bodley Head, 349 pp., £14.95, April 1990, 0 370 31354 2
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... Malan’s vision is true. Twenty years ago – it is also relevant to recall – the sociologist Heribert Adam put up the theory that the Afrikaners had an unacknowledged genius for pragmatic flexibility: far from being ideological dogmatists, they were able to shift their ground when the pressure reached danger point. It is possible to see the lurching ...

Apartheid’s Apocalypse

R.W. Johnson, 3 July 1986

South Africa without Apartheid 
by Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley.
California, 315 pp., £15.25, July 1986, 0 520 05769 4
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Move your shadow: South Africa Black and White 
by Joseph Lelyveld.
Joseph, 390 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 7181 2661 0
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Capitalism and Apartheid: South Africa 1910-1984 
by Merle Lipton.
Gower/Temple Smith, 448 pp., £18.50, September 1985, 0 85117 248 2
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The Militarisation of South African Politics 
by Kenneth Grundy.
Tauris, 133 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 1 85043 019 5
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... South Africa,’ write Adam and Moodley,evokes a morbid fascination. A vast literature of condemnation wallows in moral predicaments. Ambivalent friends of Pretoria respond with ever more sophisticated justifications of the unjustifiable. Foreigners cherish the easy accessibility to an English-speaking police state, where the press is critical, intellectuals are tolerated, and the repression occurs out of sight ...

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