The Eye of the Needle

Towards Participatory Democracy in South Africa

Richard Turner

With Essays by Tony Morphet and a New Foreword by Rosalind C. Morris.


5 x 8 inches, 224pp. May 2015

ISBN : 9780857422378

Rs  495.00 (HB)
$21.00 (HB)
£14.50 (HB)

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Described by Nelson Mandela as a source of inspiration, Richard Turner was a central figure in the white South African student movement and key in its radicalization. Turner acquired his doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he was inspired by the events of 1968, and returned to South Africa increasingly influenced by Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness movement. His work was forceful and revolutionary, causing him to be banned, confined to his home, and eventually assassinated by state security forces in 1978. Turner’s most influential and incendiary text, The Eye of the Needle, is being returned to print at a critical moment in South African history, when many have turned their attention once again to Black Consciousness and a reconsideration of the Durban Moment.


The Eye of the Needle is a largely utopian statement, advocating for the creation of a socialist society couched in the language of Christian ideology. Against the backdrop of contemporary labor disputes and the appearance of new unions and emergent calls for the re-radicalization of South African politics, Turner’s work is newly relevant. Accompanied by Tony Morphet’s contextualizing essays, the book provides readers with an excellent entry point for both historical reflection on 1970s South Africa and critical engagement with contemporary social justice.

Richard Turner is recognized as the one of the most significant academic philosophers to have come out of South Africa. He graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1963 and continued his studies at the Sorbonne where he studied under Henri Lefebvre. He returned to South Africa in 1966, then moved to Natal in 1970 and became a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Natal. Turner was shot and killed in January 1978, widely believed to be an assassination carried out by apartheid forces. Nelson Mandela described Turner ‘as a source of inspiration.


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