Censoring Reality

An examination of books on South Africa

Published in the UK at the same time as Journey to Jo’burg, and both banned in South Africa, this booklet (download here) was based on a study of non-fiction books about South Africa in British schools and libraries in the early 1980s. It was a ‘revelation’, said the Education Guardian.

Censoring Reality uses a fictional schoolgirl’s search for information for a class project to analyse the image of South Africa being presented in her sources. Most of the commonly used non-fiction books were misleading. Some openly reflected racist language and perceptions. Others omitted half the picture, including encyclopaedias. The apartheid government’s propaganda was skilful and far-reaching.

With a wealth of illustrations – words and pictures from newspapers, books, government documents, interviews and advertisements – [the book] guides teacher, child, and a general reader towards a set of critical criteria we must all learn to use when judging material. The tone is calm and practical, the effect painful and shaming – but illuminating.
– Education Guardian