Louis Botha: A Man Apart
In A Man Apart Richard Steyn once again brings to life a South African icon. Louis Botha was the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, a union he did much to create in the decade after the devastation of the Anglo-Boer War.
During the war Botha was a brilliant young Boer general who through his battlefield strategy won significant victories over the British in the early stages of the war. When the weight of British arms overwhelmed the Boers, Botha along with Smuts did much to encourage peace between English and Afrikaner and led the country to Union in 1910 and dominion status.
Botha was a big-hearted and generous man who showed magnanimity in his dealings with all, including former enemies. He led the South African troops to victory and the capture of German South West Africa – prior to this he had to put down a revolt of pro-German Afrikaners.
At the Peace of Versailles, representing South Africa, he pleaded unsuccessfully for magnanimity towards the Germans. Botha was a globally respected figure – he and Smuts effectively operated as a double act in South Africa and on the international stage before Botha’s untimely death in August 1919 at only 57. In A Man Apart this tragically short life is illuminated in full.