Praise for The Founders (2003)

One hundred and fifty years of black intellectual thought remain outside the social theory curriculum in South Africa. I have chosen some of the defining texts of how black people in Africa and the diaspora have interpreted the meaning of social existence and out of such processes ultimately gave meaning to the social ideals contained in the South African constitution. ... Here is my list.

 The Founders by André Odendaal, 

I write what I Like by Steve Biko, 

Ityala lama Wele by SEK Mqhayi, 

Citizen and Subject by Mahmood Mamdani, 

Black Athena by Martin Bernal, 

The Souls of Black Folk by WEB du Bois, and 

The African Diaspora and The Disciplines by Teju Olanyan and James Sweet.  

Prof Xolela Mangcu, The Conversation/The Sunday Times.

This is a unique book of high scholarship unlikely to find any rivals … It should long stand as the definitive work on the subject.

 Dr Peter Limb, Michigan State University

This is a stunning work… The Founders promises to be the kind of reference work that scholars will rely on for generations to come…

Prof Robert Russel Edgar, Howard University, Washington D.C.

A path-breaking book, and I was particularly struck by the palpable Africanism conveyed in the author’s narrative style. His penmanship captures, with idiomatic sensitivity, the intellectual modalities and ethos of the black political traditions that many of us grew up with and which we heard and came to internalise through familiar song, speeches and umrabulo.

 Prof Naledi Nomalanga Mkhize, Nelson Mandela University

Overall, Odendaal has provided a landmark work in The Founders; one that truly captures the sophistication and dynamism of African political leadership. 

Aran MacKinnon, Georgia College, International Journal of African Historical Studies

A gigantic contribution – I read it twice. 

Dr Busani Ngcaweni, Director, National School of Government.

A magisterial work. 

Barend Lategan, Historia

The thoroughness with which he carried out his research is admirable. What he does with the wealth of material he uncovers is even more remarkable. He places what could otherwise have been an intimidating litany of facts and figures into a carefully constructed and utterly engaging narrative.

 Dr Tyrone August, Cape Times

The Founders is the work of careful and thorough research and illuminates an important and complex history of South African resistance politics. 

Dr Melissa Armstrong, Carleton University, Ottawa, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

[The Founders…] is simply wonderful, filling in so much detail on a period about which so relatively little has been written. Thank you for the incredible amount of work that obviously went into it.

 Prof Gail Gerhart,

Columbia University & co-editor of From Protest to Challenge, A documentary history of African politics in South Africa

Our country’s history is incomplete without an appreciation of early African intellectuals such as the ANC’s founding president John Langalibalele Dube, Reverend Tiyo Soga and his editor son AK Soga, Sol Plaatje, Pixley ka Seme and John Tengo Jabavu … Odendaal convincingly demonstrates that constitutional politics among Africans goes as far back as the time of these founding fathers. 

S’thembiso Msomi, Sunday Times Books

The Founders makes a very strong and persuasive case for rejecting orthodox narratives that paint the early activists and intellectuals as ‘naïve, timid, conservative and collaborationist’. 

Edwin Etieybo, University of Witwatersrand, African Historical review

The author’s knowledge and wider understanding of the context, as well as his thrilling and engaging writing style make the book difficult to put down.

 Patrick Kayongo

A wealth of early ANC history that cries out for a wider audience. 

John Matisonn, Author of God, Spies and Lies, Finding South Africa’s future through its past.

An outstanding example of conscientious research, with balanced and flexible assessments… Odendaal’s work gives us a graphic picture of the range of political bodies that existed before the SANNC and the complexity of the processes that led to its founding. 

Dr Sylvia Neame, Author of The Congress Movement, 1912-1961.

Andre Odendaal’s The Founders outflanks [recent] scholarship [on the ANC] by going back in time from 1912, to see the ANC’s founding not as a beginning, but instead as the outcome of decades of work to construct a black “South Africa” from the multiple chieftaincies, geographies and other polities that fractured the nascent country’s map. He is a master of the multiple archives and has an encyclopedia’s passion for minutiae. From the unlikely material of newspaper rivalry, cricket clubs, and meeting minutes, he has written an epic history of black South African politics in the transformative period between the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley and the promulgation of the Union of South Africa. 

Prof Daniel Magaziner,Yale University, American Historical Review

Contact Andre Odendaal

If you would like to be in touch about books, speaking engagements or research please send me a message