The Freedom Struggle

Peter Croeser

The Freedom Struggle was compiled and written by Peter Croeser to accompany a permanent exhibition on the struggle for racial equality in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands opened in September 2013 at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum.  It is published in association with the Natal Society Foundation.

The book covers a wide sweep of history from the San gatherers of 20 000 BC onwards, setting the history of the region against its sub-continental and national background. It moves from early African farmers to the arrival of first Voortrekkers, then the British, and via the wars of the nineteenth century to the eras of segregation and apartheid. The struggles of the disenfranchised culminated in regional violence at the end of apartheid that led to adoption of a democratically-inspired national Constitution in 1996.

Amongst the prominent individuals populating this commentary are John William Colenso, Cetshwayo, Langalibalele, Mohandas Gandhi and Alan Paton.  But the voices of ordinary people of the area emerge strongly: for instance, the Kholwa of Edendale, the Indian and coloured families forced to relocate in the 1960s as a result of the Group Areas Act, the strikers at BTR Sarmcol, and those who suffered as a result of low-intensity conflict (in particular the Seven-Day War) in the late 1980s.

This is primarily a people’s history, much of it based on audio-visual interviews about the role of community and national non-governmental organisations and the memories of local residents and leaders.

Peter Croeser (17 June 1949 – 29 October 2016)


About Peter Croeser

The Freedom Struggle was published posthumously as Peter Croeser died on 29 October 2016 at the age of 67. He worked at the KZN Museum for 26 years, first as an arachnologist and later as chief education officer until retirement in 2008. He continued to work for the museum as a consultant and in 2015 became a minister-appointed member of the Museum Council.  
He also served as a past chair of the Natal Society Foundation and was its administrator at the time of his death. An obituary can be found elsewhere on this website.

Book details:

KwaZulu-Natal Museum
in association with the Natal Society Foundation.
Publication date:

Download the entire book (a 16 Megabyte PDF file) free of charge here.