The Last Defenders of the Laager: Ian D. Smith and F.W. de Klerk

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998 - 266 pages

When the Afrikaners (Boers) migrated northward from the Cape to escape British rule, they enountered the Zulu people. To protect their claims, the Boers formed the laager, a circle of wagons. As years passed, the laager acquired wider political dimensions and became a symbol of Afrikaner determination to survive under hostile conditions. Ian D. Smith, last colonial leader of Zimbabwe from 1964 to 1979, and F. W. de Klerk, the last white president of South Africa from 1988 to 1994, were the last defenders of the laager on the African continent. Rising nationalism and the devastation of civil war would eventually force these leaders to abandon the colonial systems that they had inherited from their predecessors.

The study details the origins and development of the laager system in Africa. It discusses how and why previously successful tactics to maintain the system would fail amidst the rising African nationalism of the late 20th century. The focus of each of the eight chapters alternates between Smith and de Klerk and examines the efforts of each to overcome unanticipated challenges.


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Beginnings of the Laager F W de Klerk in the Context of Political Leadership in South Africa
Origins of the Laager Ian D Smith in the Context of Political Leadership in Colonial Zimbabwe
Cracks in the Laager The Fall of Pieter W Botha and the Rise of F W de Klerk
Chasms in the Laager The Fall of Edgar Whitehead and the Rise of Ian D Smith
F W de Klerk The Man and His Mission
Ian D Smith the RF Policy and Conflict from Efforts to Defend the Laager
F W de Klerk and the ANC A Meeting of the Minds
De Klerk and Smith as the Last Defenders of the Laager Summary Conclusion and Implications
Selected Bibliography

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Page 35 - Acts, and that we have to treat natives, where they are in a state of barbarism, in a different way to ourselves. We are to be lords over them. These are my politics on native affairs, and these are the politics of South Africa. . . . The native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise; he is to be denied liquor also.
Page 14 - This report notes, at pages 10-11, the nature of ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People's Union) and ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union).
Page 34 - Our policy is that the Europeans must stand their ground and must remain BAAS (master) in South Africa. If we reject the Herrenvolk idea and the principle that the white man cannot remain Baas, if the franchise is to be extended to the non-Europeans, and if the non-Europeans are given representation and the vote and the non-Europeans are developed on the same basis as the Europeans, how can the European remain Baas? Our view is that in every sphere the European must retain the right to rule the country...

About the author (1998)

DICKSON A. MUNGAZI is Regent's Professor of History at the Center for Excellence in Education at Northern Arizona University. He is the author of numerous books on African political history and education, including The Mind of Black Africa (Praeger, 1996), and Educational Reform and the Transformation of Southern Africa, coauthored with L. Kay Walker (Praeger, 1997).

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