No. 83, December 2019


Book reviews


Precolonial early to mid-18th century South Africa not only demonstrated clear signs of citizenry in conflict with the Cape Colony’s British Administration, but also occasionally exposed acrimonious relationships between Administration and the business community. Hendrik Snyders writes about the 1843-1845 Guano Ordinance policy as such an example. Free access to the guano (an accumulated excrement of seabirds) as source for trading purposes was desired. Administration however, felt that seabird guano was declared Crown property. So the Guano Ordinance was declared which implied that only wealthy guanopreneurs, that had to pay for guano freight, and poorer counterparts removed as competition but also eliminated possibilities of uncontrolled guano collection. A very interesting outcome from this Guano Ordinance was that it was the first of its kind at the time, and a policy which, on an international scale, paved ways for similar legal measures in other parts of the world and trade from the 1850’s. Of particular interest was the globalised impact of this Ordinance on a similar Act in Peru and the United States of America in 1856, and later Australia (1879).

Loraine Maritz shares with readers the challenge of one-sided reporting in a local newspaper such as The George & Knysna Herald. The specific example is the reporting of the 1938 Voortrekker Centenary as an Afrikaner nationalist initiative. Maritz argues that the editor of the The George & Knysna Herald had keenly reported on the event during the Centenary year but shortly thereafter, in the time of War (2nd World War, 1939-1945) was said to be a “transformed” reporter and a fierce.

In the next two articles of this issue identity as focus is prominent. The first is that of Lere Amusan in which the politics of northern frontier Yoruba identity in the Old Ilorin province of Post-colonial Nigeria is revisited for its ethnic boundary struggles, its diluted-becoming cultural beliefs and linguistic divide. Yet, Amusan views the northern frontier of Yoruba land as being multicultural rich in nature and having a uniqueness in tradition, but that this asset of being multicultural is currently perceived as its biggest challenge in preserving a specific identity.

In the second article related to identity, Juan Klee elaborates on the historical development of the erstwhile Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), known today as University of Johannesburg (UJ), and how the RAU’s identity had been shaped by language and religion, amongst others. By imposing academic and scientific specific environment and programmes the Afrikaans speaking culture was consciously nurtured. Klee argues that the early time RAU embodied features of a volksuniversiteit (a university for the people). Preserving an identity that was believed to be under threat (such as language and religion), had the support of political and cultural organisations at the time.

A book review on “Shadow state: The politics of state capture” (by Ivor Chipkin and Mark Swilling) is reviewed by the new book review editor from 2020. The New Contree Editorial wants to express a warm thanks to Mr Charl Blignaut that decided to retire from this position. Mr Blignaut has served the New Contree loyally for several years, and his resignation leaves a void in the journal’s activities. The Editorial Board is indebted to Mr Emile Coetzee who has volunteered to act in this position so long. Academia in the Historical and Social Science are warmly encouraged to submit new research for peer review from which publication normally emanates, if successful. Members and new subscribers to New Contree are encouraged to complete the subscription form at the back of the journal as part of the process to ensure a healthy publication future for New Contree.

Lastly, a visual memory of the Annual Regional History Conference is shared.

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