1986 was a pivotal year in South African history. It was the year of the vigilante, the year of the necklace – but also the year the talking began.
Drawing on newspaper articles, memoirs, and little-known histories, William Dicey presents a compelling diary of a very bad year.
He focuses on ordinary people, showing what life was actually like under an authoritarian regime – from the six hours a day that black workers in KwaNdebele spent on buses to the rebel sporting tours that provided a distraction for white South Africans.
Some stories foreshadow the miracle of 1990 – for instance, the deputy commander of Pollsmoor Prison takes Nelson Mandela on a scenic drive around Cape Town, years before his eventual release. Other stories shine a light on our current conflicts.
Written in crisp prose, 1986 is a model of historical excavation, deftly evoking the spirit of the times.