Censoring Reality

An examination of books on South Africa

Published at the same time as Journey to Jo’burg, this booklet, which you can 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