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A History of South Africa by Leonard Thompson, Lynn Berat

By Leonard Thompson, Lynn Berat

A number one student of South Africa offers a clean and penetrating exploration of that country's background, from the earliest recognized human inhabitation of the zone to the current, focusing totally on the reports of its black population. For this 3rd version, Leonard Thompson provides new chapters that describe the move of energy and the recent South Africa below the presidencies of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

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The food supply was more reliable; milk was a most nutritious component of the herders' diet. That would have made them"taller and stronger than their aboriginal ancestors and contemporaries. The herders, however, did not eliminate the hunting and gathering economy in their vicinity. There were always people who owned no livestock living among or near them. As a nineteenth-century observer put it: Nearly everytribe is found to consist of three distinct classesof persons. First, the wealthy class.

When William Burchell, a British traveler, visited the Tswana town of Dithakong in 1812, 21 THEAFRICANS it occupied "the greater part of a plain of about two miles in diameter," and he estimated its population at five thousand. 5 6 The mixed farmers had a keen sense of kinship solidarity and obligations, extending far beyond the nuclear family. ">? >8 Married men dominated farming society. The senior married man controlled his homestead. He was the owner of both the agricultural produce and the cattle.

A chief would convene a lebollo (initiation school). when one of his sons had reached the appropriate age. This was a dramatic episode in the life of a chiefdom-the village or cluster of villages that recognized the authority of a single leader. Only the chief could authorize a lebollo and make it effective, because it was he who appointed the mohlabani (distinguished warrior), the mesuoe (instructors), and the thipane (surgeon) who conducted the ceremonies. The chief also supplied the crucial ingredients: a bull, butterfat, and, most important of all, his lenaka.

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