Pale Native: Memories of a Renegade Reporter

Pale Native: Memories of a Renegade ReporterChristie here with another edition of the IDS Students’ Bookshelf! The second book to be added to our bookshelf is Max Du Preez’s Pale Native: Memories of a Renegade Reporter (written in 2003). Prior to embarking on a field course in South Africa in 2013, I was required to read numerous books written by South Africans and/or about South Africa. This book’s title caught my attention, and so I borrowed my professor’s copy. 

This book is an insider’s account into the history of South African politics. Max Du Preez, one of South Africa’s most seasoned and controversial journalists, does a commendable job of intertwining his own life experiences with an overview of various apartheid figures, controversies, policies and so forth. In the opening chapters, Du Preez discusses both his familial ancestors, as well as the ancestors of South Africa, sharing many personal stories about these figures. Du Preez then shifts into a chronological documentation of his own career and the various establishments he wrote for. The closing chapters of the book document the creation of the Afrikaans alternative newspaper, the Vrye Weekblad, and discusses Du Preez's coverage of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission proceedings.

With 11 official languages, South Africa remains a very diverse country. Each of these races, however, has its own set of heroes: the Afrikaners have Paul Kruger and Jan van Riebeeck, while the Zulus have Shaka, the Khoi have Autsomato and so forth. I really appreciated Du Preez’s point that these citizens need to come together and be proud of their country’s heroes, regardless of their race. While this has begun to happen with Nelson Mandela, there is still a long way to go. My favourite quote from this book further explains his viewpoint: “...I’m a South African and an African before I’m a white or an Afrikaner.  There needs to be a very fundamental mind shift: whites should, and should be helped to, break the mould of them as a separate group inside this nation.  Embracing the amazing history of our liberation over many generations would be a good first step, and would replace the paralysing feelings of guilt, however hidden and denied, with pride and a commitment to make this country work better.  Nobody in the world deserves to be forever condemned to being the evil offspring of despised colonialists and racists.” (P. 20)  

Du Preez is not afraid to tell it like it is, regardless of the consequences. Although he is by no means the only white Afrikaner reporter who opposed apartheid, I found his account refreshing and original!

Do you have a book that you'd like to add to our bookshelf? Check out the submission guidelines here and send your reviews to me at

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