Limpopo's Legacy

Limpopo's Legacy

Student Politics & Democracy in South Africa

Anne Heffernan


James Currey



Argues that the historical primacy of youth politics in Limpopo, South Africa has influenced the production of generations of nationally prominent youth and student activists - among them Julius Malema, Onkgopotse Tiro, Cyril Ramaphosa, Frank Chikane, and Peter Mokaba.

In 2015 and 2016 waves of student protest swept South African campuses under the banner of FeesMustFall. This book brings an historical perspective to the recent risings by analysing regional influences on the ideologies that have underpinned South African student politics from the 1960s to the present. The author considers the history of student organization in the Northern Transvaal (today Limpopo Province) and the ways in which students and youth in this relatively isolated area in the north of South Africa have influenced political change on a national scale, over generations. Organized around the stories of several key political actors, the book introduces the reader to critical spaces of political mobilization in the region. Among the most prominent is the University of the North at Turfloop, which played an integral role in building the South African Students' Organisation (SASO) in the late 1960s and propagating Black Consciousness in the 1970s. It became an ideological battleground where Black Consciousness advocates and ANC-affiliates competed for influence in the 1980s. Turfloop has remained politically significant in the post-apartheid era: it was here in 2007 that Julius Malema stumped for Jacob Zuma's ascension to the presidency during the ANC's pivotal party conference that resulted in the ousting of Thabo Mbeki. The final two chapters address Malema's political ascension in regional branches of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) and the ANC Youth League.

Anne Heffernan is Assistant Professor in the History of Southern Africa at Durham University and a Research Associate of the History Workshop, University of the Witwatersrand. She is Co-editor of Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto '76 (Wits University Press, 2016).

Southern Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Swaziland): Wits University Press

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January 2019
1 line illustrations
272 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781847012173
Format: Hardback
James Currey
BISAC POL053000, HIS047000, POL015000
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Table of Contents

Turfloop, Crucible of Change
Centre of the Storm
Africanisation: The New Face of Turfloop
Black Consciousness in Decline
Congresses and Comrades
Populism and the New Youth League
Julius Malema and Youth Politics in the New Limpopo
Epilogue: Legacies of Limpopo