The best books to read about South Africa are mostly from those that have traveled extensively. Traveling is the best investment they say. It is finding yourself in places you can get lost in. It is immersing yourself in different cultures, meeting people you would otherwise have never met. Going to places you cannot spell at the top of your head, much less pronounce properly. Enriching your experiences and finding more about places and people expands not only your vocabulary but how you see the world as well.
That far away place where the delightful goodies like Biltong and droewors sold in South African shops which are now available in Sydney. South Africa, like most places, with crimes and crime rates that are slightly higher than most but the reality that something happening to a tourist is very low. You are safe if you keep to the beaten tourist path and do not venture into high risk areas. With the right preparation and safety, it could end up as one of the best trips you could make.
- Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton – a peek at a racially divided South Africa between two men and their families. A beautifully woven novel that’s both tragic, hopeful and poetic.
- Coconut by Kopano Matlwa – A story focusing on the search for identity of two black millenial girls facing issues in modern-day South Africa. What role is there for them in Westernised society?
- No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu – A bold look at the horrors of uncovering human rights violations at the time of the apartheid. A story of reconciling a nation with its present and future without denying the past.
- Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer – a historical novel by the South African Nobel Prize in Literature winner of a girl coming to terms with her father’s legacy as an anti-apartheid militant and struggles in a complicated society.
- Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela – From humble to hero, the life of Nelson Mandela from his beginnings in a rural village to becoming the first president of a democratic South Africa. If you MUST read anything about South Africa, this is IT.
With a history as culturally rich as South Africa, it is only expected that there would be more of a telling and re-telling of what could, did and what else might have happened. The best books to read about South Africa may have not been written yet. It might be about South Africa’s future. One thing is for sure, South Africa’s shaping of their country is not even half done yet. It will evolve and develop more rapidly than anyone expects.