In Ghana, I once sat next to a young student in a bus on the way to a human rights conference. Are there many whites in SA? she asked. Yes, I replied, a few million. Haven’t you heard of apartheid and PW Botha’s National Party? Yes, she said, she was taught all about it, but she thought they were black people. The spat over British MP Jacob Rees-Mogg displaying his ignorance on Anglo-Boer War crimes against humanity reminded me of this conversation. Particularly of an issue that may look too arcane for nonacademic discussion, but which actually offers a useful lens to view contemporary problems from another angle. Where does white anticolonial resistance against the British empire fit in with the common narrative of SA’s step-by-step liberation? Is it different to the ANC’s and PAC’s just because the latter are black? The student in Ghana either was ignorant, or race didn’t matter to her, since state repression is so common in Africa. Struggle icon Neville Alexander has called Boer ...

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