Book review: Zululand True Stories 1780 to 1978

2010-06-09 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Zululand True Stories 1780 to 1978

J. C. van der Walt

Privately published

 

THIS self-published book has gone into four editions and according to its author the latest “expanded” edition “contains 82 chapters and 356 rare photographs and sketches on the history of Zululand from the times of King Shaka to the development of industry at Richards Bay.”

The book is a scrapbook ­affair reminiscent in style of J. L. Smail’s From the Land of the Zulu Kings, and while this patchwork approach — plus the book’s idiosyncratic layout — does not exactly instil confidence in the content, there’s no denying it contains material not easily accessed elsewhere.

As well as the usual suspects, such as the conflicts with the British and the trekkers, Van der Walt also takes a look at gold mining in Melmoth, Catalina flying boats in St Lucia Bay and the Women’s Institute in Zululand. The section dealing with Richards Bay includes an intriguingly titled chapter, “Sex and the Bayside Aluminium Smelter”.

Van der Walt’s writing is competent at best and though he has added a bibliography, the lack of specific sourcing will be a drawback for more serious readers.

• The book is available in some bookshops or can be ordered from the author at 035 753 1433 or 084 238 9976, or e-mail vanderwalt123@telkomsa.net

 

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