EXCERPT | Safari Nation by Jacob Dlamini – winner of the 2021 UJ Prize

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Tourists on safari ride in open Land Rovers September 13, 1997 at Mala Mala, an exclusive game lodge in Kruger Park, South Africa. South Africa has become a large tourist destination after the end of Apartheid in 1994. (Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images)
Tourists on safari ride in open Land Rovers September 13, 1997 at Mala Mala, an exclusive game lodge in Kruger Park, South Africa. South Africa has become a large tourist destination after the end of Apartheid in 1994. (Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images)

Last week Jacob Dlamini won the UJ Prize for Safari Nation: A Social History of the Kruger National Park (Jacana). Using previously unseen historical documents, Dlamini shows how the park was used to foster a sense of white unity in the Union of South Africa, but also its meaning for black people, who were not only excluded from it, or used as tourist-friendly workers there, but also found in it a marker of social mobility. 

Dlamini made his debut with Native Nostalgia in 2010 and won the Sunday Times Award with Askari in 2014. He is an assistant professor of history at Princeton.  Safari Nation has also won the Martin A Klein Prize in African History, it was announced on 2 November. The award, given by the American Historical Society, recognises the most distinguished work of scholarship on African history published in English during the previous calendar year. 

The Kruger National Park, which sits on South Africa’s borders with Mozambique to the east and Zimbabwe to the north, is the flagship of South Africa’s 19 national parks. Paul Kruger’s South African Republic established it as the Sabi Game Reserve in 1898. This was a year before the outbreak of the South African War, which sent Kruger into terminal exile in Switzerland, destroyed the two Boer republics (Transvaal and the Orange Free State), and laid the foundations for the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.  

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