Elleke Boehmer


In 1999/2000, looking back from our vantage point at this century's turn, the Second Anglo-Boer or 'Great' South African War, October 1899-May 1902, seems (even more starkly than it perhaps did before) to have laid long shadows across southern African political and cultural history of the last 100 years. These are shadows which, even if to a lesser degree, fall across twentieth-century world history and historical imaginations also. Dismissed in the past as one of Britain's many forgotten imperial wars - though a particularly costly and hard-won one - the Boer War, and the blow it represented to imperial morale, did have profound implications for colonial rule elsewhere in the British Empire, as well as for anti-imperial and nationalist activism. And it was during 1899-1902 that 'South Africa' first became a humanitarian and human rights issue of international significance, as Barbara Harlow evocatively outlines below.



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