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This is an account of the Quakers and their activities in South Africa up through the 20th century. After an overview of early Quaker history in South Africa, it examines their responses to segregation, apartheid, the defiance and resistance campaigns, and their position on sanctions and reconciliation.


“…may be the most thorough account to date of the history and role of Quakers in the long struggle for freedom in South Africa. It is a history of peace-making, as might be expected, but also one of conflict and complicity, which holds lessons for Friends everywhere. Drawing from more than two decades of experience working and living in southern Africa, as well as years of in-depth research and extensive personal interviews with South African Friends, Betting Tonsing’s writing illustrates not only her scholarly abilities but a real understanding of the Quaker faith and practice of Friends in South Africa….She includes useful appendices with brief biographies of weighty South African Friends, historical letters, and reports that help bring this remarkable history to life.” – Friends Journal

“This is, so far as I am aware, the only full-length study of the Society of Friends in South Africa. . . . it is lucidly written, sensitive, and where necessary critical, in its appraisal of the role of this small society. A further merit is that, though scholarly, it focuses largely on the role of key individual Quakers, South Africans, American and British, and their mutual interaction in their approach to South Africa’s social and political problems. This gives the text a readability which would I think attract the general reader as well as the scholar.” – Rodney Davenport

“This is an important book, covering material not to be found anywhere else and including interview data collected at a critical moment of South African history before many of the protagonists died. It is lucidly written and very readable, whilst also comprehensive, particularly of the middle years of the twentieth century.” – P. Dandelion

"This book is to be recommended as a thorough and inclusive study of the South African Quaker community." -- Prof. Nicholas Southey, University of South Africa

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface: Foreword
Introduction: The Quaker Setting
1. Evolution of a Religious Fellowship: Traditional Quaker Concerns
2. The South African Historical Background
3. Quakers in South Africa: An Early History
4. South African Quakers and Segregation
6. The Advent of Apartheid and the Quaker Conscience Among South African Friends
7. South African Quakers and the Defiance Campaign
8. From Defiance to Resistance: The South African Quaker Response
9. The South African Quaker Position on Sanctions and Reconciliation
10. South African Friends Define Their Social Witness
11. Conclusion
Appendix A: Organizational Structure of the Religious Society of Friends
Appendix B: Listing of Quakers frequently mentioned in the study
Appendix C: Bibliography of books, articles, and papers by Henrik van der Merwe reviewed for this study
Appendix D: Reprint of and notes on the Conscience Clause inserted in the 1912 South African Defense Act which excluded Quakers from military service
Appendix E: “Crisis in South Africa” by Rosemary Elliott
Appendix F: American Civil Rights Movement and the accusation of Communist linkage
Appendix G: Harold George Calpin
Appendix H: Soweto Monthly Meeting
Bibliography; Index

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