Home Lifestyle South Africa: A Safari Into the Social History of the Kruger National Park

South Africa: A Safari Into the Social History of the Kruger National Park

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Most conservation books set in Africa are written by white authors and often (unintentionally) for a white audience. Jacob Dlamini uses the park as a microcosm of South Africa’s wider history in the 20th century.

As a black South African, Jacob Dlamini, an assistant professor of history at Princeton University, has brought an important perspective to conservation and natural history issues. Dlamini’s focus is the social history of the Kruger National Park, a history riven by complexity and conflict. He examines a range of issues: the politicisation of nature, migrant labour, the “Bantustans” and the largely neglected history of black tourism to the park under colonialism and apartheid.

One of the ironies of the Bantustans or homeland system uncovered here is that the park had to find ways to accommodate the tourists drawn from them as they had to be treated as international travellers. “… there is no doubt,” Dlamini writes, “that homelands helped to hasten the demise of apartheid by making it difficult for the KNP, for example, to maintain petty apartheid”. The largely forgotten experiences of Indian and coloured tourists to the park under apartheid are also brought to life. The park is used here as a lens…

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