Every step of the way: the journey to freedom in South Africa
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In the long history of southern Africa, the last decade stands as an extraordinary turning point. It is a decade that redefines a society formed through the conflicts and bonds of centuries. This book celebrates this decade, the first ten years of South African democracy, in part by seeking to provide some depth to the popular understanding of the history that preceded it, and made it possible. It arises from Ministry of Education's concern that the values of the present era, and the realisation of the ideals of democracy, equality and non-racialism, cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of their long gestation in the tumult of the national story. On this the 10th anniversary of the advent of democracy, South Africans of all ages are presented with the opportunity to reflect on their immediate, but also their distant, past. The objective is to refresh or instill a sense of the idealism and the values that underpinned the defining trajectory of the struggle for liberty, without overlooking the complex or unpalatable features of the past - the acknowledgement of which is essential for a fuller understanding of the present. So, while the scope of the book takes in the broadest sweep of history, from the very emergence of modern humanity in southern Africa, it is thematically focused on the struggle for, and triumph of, freedom. Every Step of the Way traces the origins of the resistance and the idealism that ultimately assured South Africans their freedom and raises provocative questions about the roles of individuals in directing or going along with history. Speeches and statements of the famous and the powerful are contrasted with the memories of the obscure and the downtrodden, the imagery of poetry and song and the immediacy of newspaper reports are interwoven with the insights and interpretations of leading historians and the first-hand accounts of people who left a record of their world. When South Africans crossed their ballots in the country's first democratic elections on 27 April 1994, they also collectively crossed the line that divided a long, complex and often bitter past from a future of hope, equality and common nationhood. The challenges they faced were no less daunting, but now, for the first time, they could confront them together. The narrative of the long journey to this moment is a compelling one, celebrating the tenth anniversary of that first democratic election, because what we choose to remember from our yesterdays is a way of recommending choices for our tomorrows.