The Sword and the Pen: Six decades on the political frontier, by Allister Sparks
If history is a myth-making process, understanding history is a demythologising one: and this is what Allister Sparks, author of The Sword and the Pen: Six decades on the political frontier, achieves with a depth of knowledge, a brilliant political intelligence, a vast research, all briskly expounded in fine and vivid prose.
Preface to The Sword and the Pen: Six decades on the political frontier
I WAS BORN on the frontier. Literally. The border of our eastern Cape farm was the Black Kei River near its confluence with the White Kei to form the Great Kei, which flowed into the Indian Ocean some 75 km north of the port city of East London and itself formed the border between the white settlement region of Britain's old Cape Colony and the large 'native reserve' of Transkei. It was thus the first fiercely contested frontier between white and black in South Africa, between the white settlers who had been moving up the east coast since landing at the southern tip of the continent in the mid-seventeenth century and the indigenous black Africans who had been drifting southwards for centuries in slow rhythmic shifts of generational expansion. It was an encounter that was to become the quintessence of all our history. And thus, too, of my life. The encounter on that frontier was violent and tragic, and indeed laden with dreadful misfortunes, for the native Xhosa people. In the century before I was born, nine wars were fought over that territory And there were many rebellions besides, including one that gave our farm its name: Hotfire. It was not so named, as many thought, because of the family name of Sparks, or even the heat of its climate in an encircling bowl of rugged mountains, but because of a fierce battle fought there in what horses for his release. Shocked and bewildered, Hintsa haggled a while longer, and then purported to agree - but instead dispatched a messenger to order his people to drive their cattle deeper into the Transkei. Smith gave Hintsa dinner in his tent that night, entertaining him royally, and the next morning set out with the king and a force of troops ostensibly to find and bring back the ransom cattle and horses. For two days they marched, then early in the morning of the third day Hintsa suddenly spurred his horse and broke away, racing ahead of the column. With a cry of rage Smith gave chase, and for a time the two presented a scene that must have resembled a Western movie. Smith drew a pistol to fire at Hintsa, but it jammed and he flung it away, then drew another which also jammed. Gradually he closed in on Hintsa, who tried to stab his pursuer with his assegai but Smith was already too close for that. The derring-do soldier lunged at Hintsa, grabbed him by the throat and flung him off his horse. A trooper, George Southey coming up fast behind, saw Hintsa fall and fired two shots at him, hitting him in a leg and in the back. Hintsa managed to scramble into some bushes beside a river, while Southey dismounted and searched for him. Moments later the wounded king hurled his assegai at Southey but missed, and the young trooper, turning, saw Hintsa standing up in the water where he called out several times in isiXhosa: 'Mercy! Southey, who spoke the language fluently, must have heard him, but he took aim and fired, shattering Hintsa's head. [...]
This is an excerpt form The Sword and the Pen: Six decades on the political frontier, by Allister Sparks.
Title: The sword and the pen
Subtitle: Six decades on the political frontier
Author: Allister Sparks
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers SA
Cape Town; Johannesburg; South Africa, 2016
ISBN 9781868425594 / ISBN 978-1-86842-559-4
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 608 pages
Sparks, Allister im Namibiana-Buchangebot
The Sword and the Pen: Six decades on the political frontie is an excellent book about an extraordinary life in extraordinary times.
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