In these lectures, Davenport explores what he calls 'one of the most remarkable turnabouts in history,' the recent dramatic events in South Africa. He begins by looking at the changes that set the stage for the demise of apartheid, and then at the challenges facing the new administration of Nelson Mandela after the May 1994 elections. The government of national unity had to build a new society out of old bricks, against all the handicaps of an economy run down by sanctions as well as a school system which had almost collapsed and, in the process, left large numbers of people unemployed. Davenport examines the process of reconciliation among the various elements of South African society, and explains how a host of problems that might have undermined peace-making efforts were overcome. He ends with an up-to-date analysis the making of the new constitution, a process set against this politically volatile background. The Birth of a New South Africa is an illuminating look at the transitional years from apartheid to democracy, told from the perspective of an insider. Davenport's South Africa: A Modern History (4 ed.
1991), is widely used as a work of reference by scholars and general readers.
T.R.H. Davenport was Reader, Professor, and Head of the Department of History at Rhodes University, Grahams Town, South Africa, until his retirement in 1990. He is author of The Afrikaner Band: The History of a Political Party and South Africa: A Modern History.