Social History

Diepsloot is a well written and researched account of a specific burgeoning settlement on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It is part of the post apartheid world of migrancy to the city. Harber has been called “the slayer of stereotypes” and indeed he is. The study is about people coming from somewhere else, trying to find a space to call home, to start a life in the city and find a job. The book reveals the problems and challenges of overcrowded formal and informal living with minimal services. Diepsloot is perhaps home to 200 000 people.

Gordonia is a remote, frontier part of South Africa, located in the Northern Cape Province. It is a dry, mainly barren, marginal land with a small linguistically and culturally mixed population. Along the Orange River the land is fertile because it is irrigated. It was an area settled by the Basters (in the late 19th century but there are also Xhosa speakers and descendants of other Khoisan people). Frontiers people are a breed of their own, self-reliant, tough, hardy and poor.

This year makes the centenary of the South African's heroic assault on and then defence of Delville Wood in France on the Western Front in July 1916, a 6 day epic of warfare. It was a part of the long battle of the Somme. The losses were horrendous with only 700 odd soldiers of the South African brigade emerging From the wood on the 6th day and over 2500 casualties.

In its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, Ravan Press was regarded as the daring, oppositional anti-apartheid publisher in Johannesburg, ready to take an alternative perspective of South African society. The publishing firm was established by Peter Randall, Danie Van Zyl and Beyers Naude and the firm's name, Ravan was an amalgam of their three names. They were publishers of the left and they supported the academic struggle for a different view and ideological interpretation of social issues of the day.

Review of  Tea  at Ansteys, photographs by Mark Lewis and words by Tanya Zack, Fourthwall Books, 2015, illustrated 35 pages. Price  R 200, First Edition 150 copies. Tea At Ansteys is number 6 in a series of 10 small book or rather booklets, Wake Up, This is Joburg, published by Fourthwall Books, 2015. With a first edition of only 150 it is an almost instantly collectable item of Johannesburg Africana.

Nasir Carrim: Fietas, A social History of Pageview, 1948 - 1988, published by Save Pageview Association, 1990. Softcover, A4 size, 191 pages, illustrated, maps. This book in its day was an item of campaign literature to Save Pageview from demolition and the ravages of apartheid social engineering. It was a sad and disgraceful story and the people of Pageview fought valiantly for their rights of ownership and a city presence for the Indian Community. Who wanted to move or be moved to Lenasia?

Parktown centenary Souvenir, 1892- 1992, The past with a future. Published by the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust, Editorial board: Den Adams, Flo Bird, Leigh Jackson and Carmen Welz. This souvenir booklet in A4 format celebrated the centenary of Parktown in 1992, it has the feel of a home made newsletter with a strong promotional bias , it mixes snippets of history about institutions and people with advertisements by local sponsors . 1992 is now ancient history.

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