Seven battles that gave birth to present day South Africa

Book: Seven Battles that Shaped South Africa

Book: Seven Battles that Shaped South Africa

Authors: Greg Mills and David Williams

Publisher: Tafelberg

Reviewer: Kholeka Butale

The end justifies the means. That's what some believe about war.

But, as is the case with any sensitive matter of life, there are those who disagree, insisting there's always another way of doing things, especially when lives are bound to be lost.

Seven Battles that Shaped South Africa is an informative book that focuses on the seven wars that the authors believe led to South Africa being what and where it is today. Much detail is given about where and how the battles took place.

The battles revolve around Boer against Zulu, British against Zulu, British against Boer. The wars took place in what is now KwaZulu-Natal. The authors say the battle of Blood River in 1838 between the Boers and the Zulu nation ensured the survival of the trekkers in Natal, and the themes of a conscious racial bitterness on each side endures to this day.

The Zulus also fought against the British at Isandlwana in 1979. In 1881 the Boers fought against the British. These two battles are said to represent the worst defeats suffered by the British in the 19th century. The last battle dealt with is the Cuito Cuanavale (1987-88), which was the only battle of the seven in which the British played no part.

What the book says about the victories and defeats experienced in all seven battles is that they served as determinants of what South Africa has become. The place South Africa now occupies globally is traced back to the battles lost and won.

Whether or not it was worth it, or even necessary, remains a question that still needs to be answered.