HSE Historians about South Africa
‘The Hidden Thread. Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era’ by Irina Filatova and Apollon Davidson is a book covering the history of relations between Soviet Russia and South Africa, which, for many decades, remained hidden even from those who were part of it. It is mainly concerned with the Soviet period, although the first chapter presents the history of relations between the two countries in the previous three hundred years, and the last one looks at relations following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of diplomatic relations.
In the first part of the book the reader will find a detailed analysis of the close ties that existed between the Communist Party of South Africa and the Communist International, the activities of the South African NGO Friends of the Soviet Union, trade relations in in the 1930s, and cooperation and diplomatic relations during the Second World War. The second part of the book focuses on relations between the USSR, South African communists and the African National Congress during the cold war era: Soviet assistance to the ANC's armed struggle, its ideological influence on the anti-apartheid movement, as well as an analysis of both Soviet and South African ideological constructs and policies towards each other. The final part of the book covers Gorbachev's perestroika period and the influence of changes in the USSR and its eventual collapse on the situation in South Africa and the relationship between the two countries.
A lot of facts remain unclear in the history of relations between the two countries. The authors fill these gaps with interviewees and their own memories. The authors of the book were some of the first Russian scientists to visit South Africa. In 1989 they were invited to this region by the Institute for Democracy. They subsequently visited this country several times for lectures and research work. Irina Filatova supervised the Department of History at the University of Durban-Westville, and Apollon Davidson was organizer and director of the Russian Research Centre at the University of Cape Town.
‘I have been interested in this country for more than 50 years, and it still has the capacity to surprise me. Today people of different cultures, races and religions live in South Africa, there are eleven official languages. Despite the difficult situation in the country, we can see that after decades of racial segregation the country has chosen peaceful development instead of civil war, which is a cautionary tale for all of us’, says Professor Davidson.
Last year, a team of Advanced Urban Design students from the Graduate School of Urbanism and Strelka Institute embarked on a research expedition to Johannesburg, where they studied problems associated with food security, poverty and inequality.
South African publishing conglomerate Media 24 has awarded the book The Hidden Thread. Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Eraby Professors Irina Filatova and Apollon Davidson of HSE’s Faculty of History the Recht Malan Prize for Best Non-Fiction of the year. This is the country’s top literary award for works of nonfiction.
The Russian Government is discussing a proposal on the administrative limitation of maximum interest rates on consumer loans. One of Russia’s partners in BRICS – South Africa – already has experience of such a solution. The HSE Center of Development published an analysis of this case in its ‘Banks: Statistics and Economics’ newsletter.