The late publisher Jonathan Ball’s introduction to the 2012 edition of ‘The Super-Afrikaners’, the bestselling book that put Ball’s publishing house on the map in 1978.
Publishing The Super-Afrikaners by Ivor Wilkins and Hans Strydom in 1978 remains a memorable moment in my long publishing career and a landmark in the history of Jonathan Ball Publishers. Perhaps even a landmark in South African book publishing.
I had left a good job at Macmillan specifically to publish South African history and politics, which they were too scared to do, preferring to kowtow to the apartheid regime, toeing the line so as not to jeopardise their school-book publishing interests. School-book publishers tend to do the bidding of any government in the interest of profit.
It was late 1976. In June of that year, Soweto had caught alight, literally and figuratively, with protests that would change South Africa forever. As a publisher, I wanted to play the role of midwife at the birth of stories that would emerge from a changing South Africa. So, with more enthusiasm than capital, I embarked on an adventure in publishing.
Our first books were, as are our books today, true to our policy statement formulated by myself,…