James A. Michener’s masterly chronicle of South Africa is an epic tale of adventurers, scoundrels, and ministers, the best and worst of two continents. The Covenant All study of South Africa leads any outsider with sensibility to be appalled by the horrific institution of apartheid, which in. Collaborating on a manuscript with James A. Michener In his notes on the manuscript of The Covenant, Jim has this to say about our sessions together.

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Looking at the sweeping history of South Africa in this epic story, from the earliest recorded humans both in fossilized remains and in 15,year-old cave paintings to most recent events, sheds light on how this mindset developed. God commanded the Jews not to co-mingle with the Canaanites, and to subjugate the people in their path in their new promised land. Michneer youngest son, Ham—considered to be the father of African nations—walked in on his dad in this shameful state. In fact, according to law, it was an abomination to see your father naked.

Ham transgressed, by accident, having no clue when he went to see his dad, that the dude was drunk off his ass, literally, and buck naked, in the tent. Stunned, Ham ran outside and told his brothers. Shem father of Israel and Arab nations and Japheth father of European tribes were mortified. Shem and Japheth tattled on Ham. How fair is that story? And how far would you go to use that as ccovenant for lasting and far-reaching governmental policies that controlled peoples lives for centuries?

Well, up until people used that same rationale in the United States, too.


At any rate, all this combined led the white Afrikaners in South Africa michenerr truly believe God had ordained them to subjugate the blacks, to keep them inferior and overpowered. Reading and understanding this epic horror leaves thw speechless, and my heart unable to comprehend such arrogance and cruel self-centeredness. I made my reading list for Sabbatical over a year ago: Sabbatical plans have to be submitted in late October for the following year.

My edition of the book used from Amazon is pages long. I finished it last night—Nov. The book was amazing, and well-worth the read. From the inside flap: The best and worst of two continents carve an empire out of the vast wilderness that is to become South Africa. For hundreds of years, their rivalries and passions spill across the land.

From the first Afrikaners to the powerful Zulu nation, and the missionaries who lived with both—all of them will influence and take part in the wars and politics that will change a nation forever.

The story starts with them. Prince Henry died before realizing his dream, but this men did push farther south than any Europeans ever had before. Such amazing technology could covenwnt have been achieved by Africans. The beginnings of the horrific racism is obvious as early as the moment European feet touch African soil. Eventually, these Dutch settlers, vineyard owners, businessmen, and farmers rebelled.


Some moved east and north out of direct reach of the Companie. These farmers became called Boers. These Boers were fiercely independent, and fought ferociously for freedom…through the centuries.

In the story, Michener follows generations of several families. One of them directly involved from the beginning of the Companie is the van Doorn family from until the end of the story. Huguenots Protestants arrived, by way of Amsterdam, but from France and Belgium, too.

Because of the similarity of the Calvinist beliefs to that of the Dutch Reformed believers from Holland, they were mostly absorbed into the strain that eventually became Afrikaners not called Afrikaner for quite some time, however. Du Pre brought from France an advanced ability to cultivate excellent wine grapes and wine-making skills. The skills were embraced, as well as the grape vine shoots carried all the way from Europe, but the Covennat language was effectively extinguished by the Dutch-speakers within a generation.

All through this time, coenant Dutch language was being altered, accommodating aspects of Zulu, Xhosa, Hottentot, and other languages as well as even shades of English. It finally became a language distinct jamfs true Dutch. English settlers figured more and more powerfully into the South African politics and landscape. By mid-century sskirmishes between the two forces were commonplace. The great and famous Zulu king, Shaka, swept across eastern South Africa in the early s, uniting mames land than had been held under one ruler before.

He was ruthless both on the ja,es and within his kingdom with anyone who dared challenge him. His successor, Dingane, created an elaborate and highly sophisticated royal capital. Piet Retief, as Michener paints him, makes this slaughter not even surprising. The English exercised more and more authority, and the Boers rebelled with increasing vehemence until the famous English-Boer War from The bloody battle resulted in the defeat of the Boers, but not of their covdnant, but certainly left a bloodbath behind.

James A. Michener | The Covenant

Unforgivable was the English action of removing women and children from a conquered area, burning out the left-behind farms into total obliteration, and placing conquered peoples into concentration camps. Of course, black and white camps were separate. Black statistics were not kept efficiently. The first count was 14, deaths, but examination of graveyards later puts the death number at a minimum of 20, It melded jamez determination to be free of English control into a steel will, even after military defeat.

Inthe Nationalist Party—basically the Afrikaner party of choice—won the election.

Black at this time, were of course not allowed to vote. That began the reign of terror known as apartheid.


In both cases, Blacks were peacefully protesting the michene laws of the land and were gunned down where they marched or stood. Both deserve entire blog posts all their own. From the Java-born Van Doorn family tree springs two great branches: The Nxumalos, inhabitants of a peaceful village unchanged for centuries, unite warrior tribes into the powerful Zulu nation.

And the wealthy Saltwoods are missionaries and settlers who join the masses to influence the wars michenr politics that ravage a nation.

Rivalries and passions spill across the land of The Covenant, a story of courage and heroism, love and loyalty, and cruelty and betrayal, as generations fight to forge a new world. Now I really will close out. Brian Fors, for recommending it. These people you read about were a minority kames the Afrikaner.

Secondly, I like my father grew up in a black township, mingled with black people. He was a WW2 veteran.

We lived post-Apartheid, llllllong before Apartheid fell This goes against the narrative of left wing propaganda. Our lives are being deleted as if it never happened. The perception created by Apartheid propaganda was that black and white people never mingled. We lost the propaganda war. Now America is facing the same challenges, with media bias. I came from a small town, and saw on TV, what people abroad saw on TV. I saw the good under Apartheid, and later when i joined the army, also saw the bad side.

Once again, the bad side was never shown to the outside world the evil we were fighting against. It went against the Apartheid Narrative. History is repeating itself in South Africa, and a years from now South Africa will be a different country, people like myself will be proven right.

Time is our friend. Thanks for your reply, Henri! I am not predisposed to hold an opinion as the correct one in the world in any way. Have you read The Covenant?

The Covenant by James A. Michener

I would venture to guess that there are a few characters in the novel not unlike your father. That says to me that you believed people could get along with others as people. What do you think about that? Thanks again for writing! Your email address will not be published. Once again, religion has been responsible for epic atrocities.

Henri on December 6, at Most of what you read are propaganda. Submit a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.

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