The Unbreakable Thread: Non-racialism in South Africa

Originally published by the pioneering Ravan Press in 1990, Julie Frederikse's The Unbreakable Thread traces the origins, development and resilience of the ideological tradition of non-racialism in South Africa. This book is based on more than 100 interviews conducted in the late 1980s with liberation struggle veterans, such as Billy Nair, Dorothy Nyembe and Joe Slovo, and a new generation of leaders like Cheryl Carolus, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. At the time the author likened the advocacy of non-racialism to an unbreakable thread which, although wearing thin at times, runs through the history of the struggle for democracy in South Africa.

This 25th anniversary commemorative edition has been curated by the South African History Archive (SAHA) in 2015, in consultation with Julie Frederikse as part of the first phase of a two-year project on non-racialism, funded by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. This edition, along with the related interview transcripts, historical documents and photographs, is accessible through a SAHA online repository 'Tracing the Unbreakable Thread: Non-racialism in South Africa', intended to prompt and enable critical consideration of what progress has been made in consolidating South Africa's non-racial democracy.

The online edition of the book was launched on 22 September 2015 at an event in the Women’s Goal Atrium at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. To celebrate Heritage Day 2015, the South African History Archive, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, hosted a panel discussion to consider the legacy of non-racialism in South Africa today. with panellists Ms Obenewa Amponsah (CEO, Steve Biko Foundation), Mr Neeshan Balton (CEO, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation), and Mr Sello Hatang (CEO, Nelson Mandela Foundation). 

The publication can be downloaded free of charge by registered users.

Download the publication as a ZIP folder

Download each chapter as a PDF from the LIBRARY in the virtual exhibition