No. 81, December 2018


Book reviews


Leisure, wellbeing and affective histories are historiographical spaces that South African historians of the early 21st century seem to continuously embrace. Louis Grundlingh’s emphasis on spaces of leisure by emphasising the early 20th century history of Johannesburg’s first municipal swimming bath is such an example. The conducive South African climate, the possible prestige it would bring to Johannesburg and a health investment were major arguments towards a proactive effort having a swimming bath. It was a popular place, but with limited profit, if any. It also in some way signalled later trends that places of leisure don’t necessarily produce in extensive profits but contribute to human wellbeing.

By utilising the newly discovered Valoyi oral memories, also related to the fifth Munhumutapa leader, Changamire’s, family history, Mandla Mathebula and Sekgothe Mokgoatšana in their discussion reconstructed and exposed some additional evidence for consideration to understand Changamire’s time of leadership. Two existing family perspectives (namely that of the Nembire and that of the Torwa) are debated against the newly obtained Valoyi oral memories.

Further to the south, and on South African soil again, Bernard Mbenga revisits the missionary and educational legacy of the African-American missionary, Reverend Kenneth Mosley Spooner. Spooner served the BaFokeng of Rustenburg district since the First World War years to the late 1930’s, and a respect for his legacy among the Phokeng is ongoing.

The emphasis on family doings remains with Suzanne van Eeden-Allen and Grietjie Verhoef ’s effort to understand the different levels of success in the entrepreneurial efforts of two family businesses in two different provinces of South Africa, and relating to the shoe industry. By reflecting both family business histories the authors conclude that organisational deficiencies, and limited international exposure determined their fate or success.

Anton van Vollenhoven shares with the reader valued snippets of archaeological history from the farm Wemmershuis 379JT, Belfast. This is based on research of graves “hindering” the South African National Road Agency Limited (SANRAL) in their effort to upgrade road R33. Though the human remains were reinterred on another part of Wemmershuis, the study pointed to other interesting family and local history in South African War times.

The shift in the discussions then returns to Southern Africa and in no less than three articles some colonial-related aspects of Zimbabwean history are covered. Terence Muzorewa, Mark Nyandoro and Vongai Nyawo provide a thorough discussion on the decolonising of urban space, with the Ruwa town as example in contemporary Zimbabwe. The authors provide to the readers a totally different experience of the colonial established towns as viewed by the local inhabitants. Another contemporary time discussion on Zimbabwe is that of Aaron Rwodzi on postcolonial economic nationalism within ethnic disharmony in the Matabeleland Provinces. By means of applying an ethnographic approach to the research Rwodzi determined, from the information obtained, that uneven economic development has contributed to the politicization of ethnicity in Matabeleland. Lastly, Thembani Dube revisits a time in colonial Zimbabwe in which several chiefs of the Kalanga, in different ways, expressed resistance against the Native Land Husbandry Act of 1951 (known as the amagandiya).

This New Contree issue also covers a diversity of book reviews on colonial time Natal (Duncan Du Bois); the Kovie River (Jacklyn Cock); on white terrorists during the years of the Oxwagon Sentinel Movement (Albert Blake) and Heese on other contexts surrounding the Slagtersnek Rebellion.

As always, readers of the New Contree are reminded that a request to lead a supplementary issue covering a specific theme and fitting in the vision of the Journal, is more than welcome and should be timely communicated with the Editorial Board.

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