Two weeks before the Soccer World Cup an article ran in the New York Times showing the new and invisible problem in South Africa: poor whites. According to this article this problem grew – if not started – after South Africa become a democracy in 1994. Edward-John Bottomley takes a look at this idea and finds that poor whites have always been a part of the South African landscape.
But even more than that: they have always been seen as some sort of special problem to be solved. The book traces the response of those in power – both government and the Christian church – to this problem.
From the late 19th Century to the inquests on white poverty in the early 20th Century to the apartheid government’s response to the problem, Bottomley traces the history of poor whites in South Africa. In the end, he finds that the problem isn’t the existence of white poverty, but the response of those in positions of power.
Edward-John Bottomley is a well-known journalist. His work is published in Afrikaans as well as English, in newspapers and magazines and on a number of websites.
Bottomley holds degrees in geography and journalism from the University of Stellenbosch. Most recently, he completed his master’s degree at the University of Cambridge, achieving a summa cum laude for his research on the geographical history of poor whites in South Africa. This book is a popular version of his fascinating findings. He hails from the Northwest province, but currently lives in Cape Town.