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Anatomy of a South African Genocide, The - Elex Academic Bookstore

Anatomy of a South African Genocide, The

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In 1998 David Kruiper, the leader of the Khomani San people, who today live on the fringe of the Kalahari Desert in the farthest reaches of South Africa’s Northern Cape province, lamented of his people that ‘…we have been made into nothing’. The Khomani San are a tiny remnant of the foraging communities who once inhabited most of the land area that is now South Africa. Whereas Kruiper was voicing concern about the marginalisation of the Khomani San in post-apartheid South Africa, his judgement applies to the fate of all of the hunter-gatherer societies of the Cape Colony who were destroyed by the impact of European colonialism during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Much of the dispossession and slaughter happened under Dutch East India Company rule, with continued displacement and killing under the relatively benign auspices of British imperialism. The main agents of destruction were Dutch-speaking pastoralists whose land-grabbing and farming practices ensured the virtual extinction of the Cape San peoples.

In South Africa, the nature of these killings has effectively been ignored and there is woeful public ignorance about the fate of the country’s original inhabitants. Until relatively recently, the marginalisation of the San has been clearly reflected in the treatment of  their extermination as little more than a footnote, and none of the recent works that deal with the destruction of San society explicitly analyse it as a case of genocide. The author argues that it is, since the group is no longer able to function as a viable social entity. This book explores the history of the genocide and its modern outcome