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Join Leslie Dikeni in his intriguing journey into the contested state of the Kruger National Park in the early years of the democratic transition. He speaks to chefs and wardens, cleaners and government officials, ecologists and secretaries. As word of his research spreads, those whose voices had been silenced and whose lives had been concealed in compounds and resource-starved villages seek him out, hoping that their experiences will, at last, be revealed. The biggest rest camp in Kruger and perhaps the most famous is the place named Skukuza – the place from which people ‘have been driven away’. What emerges from Dikeni’s account is the contested nature of the Park and its history – issues that go to the heart of the post-apartheid dispensation and that remain unresolved.

— Karl van Holdt

The Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh, is the most famous painting for which the subject is the background: the night sky. In this book, Leslie Dikeni, just like Van Gogh, brings to life the voices of the destitute and the silent found in communities around the Kruger National Park as they offer contrasting narratives of their experience with the Park to those of the bureaucracy of the Park and those who have benefited from the flora and fauna of the Kruger National Park. Often presented as without social backgrounds or histories, these ordinary folks after many years of brutal repression, as revealed by MrDikeni through his actor-oriented approach, have not forgotten what belongs to them in that part of the world. And just like its predecessor, South African Development Perspectives in Question, this book also takes aim at the government’s deterministic development model, which often imposes development projects that alienate the very people they are supposed to benefit.

— Lufuno Marwala

Book information

ISBN: 978-1-928341-29-1

Trim size: 230 x 150mm

Binding: paperback

Page count: 216 pages

Cost: R265.00

Genre: Sociology



Chapter 1: The conflicting nature of history, people and space: the genesis of conservation policies and the Kruger National Park

Chapter 2: Politics and environmental policies

Chapter 3: A social description of the Park

Chapter 4: The local narrative: a social description of the space of local communities surrounding the Park: their perceptions of environmental policies

Chapter 5: The state and non-governmental organisations: the conflict between people and policies


Leslie Dikeni

Leslie Dikeni was a senior researcher at MISTRA in the faculty of Humanities. He has an MSc in Rural Sociology (University of Wageningen, the Netherlands) and was a doctoral candidate at the ÉcolePratique des HautesÉtudes en Sciences Sociales (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences). Dikeni is a visiting research fellow at the School of Public and Development Management (University of the Witwatersrand) and a research associate at the University of Pretoria. His research interest is the social construction of knowledge and its dynamics. Dikeni has co-edited with William GumedeThe Poverty of Ideas: The Retreat of Intellectuals in New Democracies and is the author of South African Development Perspectives in Question.