The Struggle for Freedom in Post Apartheid South Africa
The second liberation of South Africa is imminent. The end of apartheid, which made Nelson Mandela an international hero in what was called an African "miracle," is obviously the first. The second belongs to the rising generation of young South Africans who want to, finally, cast off what was and the scars it has left behind to make real the vision of its aging revolutionaries. In AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW, respected journalist Douglas Foster explores the future of Africa's southern tip: will it continue to devolve as it has through rampant crime, faulty domestic and international politics, and an AIDS pandemic or can it still become a beacon of hope and progress for the continent?
This imperative cultural crossroads is manifested in the recent election of President Jacob Zuma. Since 2004, Foster has shadowed Zuma, having been given access to him professionally and personally in a way no other foreign journalist has. The political fray between the controversial Zuma, a once illiterate goatherd and guerilla commander, and former President Thabo Mbeki, a disconnected and Western-educated intellectual, has exacerbated the generational, racial, ethnic, gender, and economic strains of the ongoing struggle against apartheid-era inequalities. And while Foster has spent significant time with public figures who will be key characters informing the narrative including Ndaba Mandela (grandson of Nelson Mandela), Thuthugila Zuma (Zuma's teenage daughter), and Dr. Ashraf Grimwood (at the forefront of the AIDS crisis)-he will also provide a podium for the "ordinary" civilians, like Gwendolyn Dube, an HIV infected teenager and Johnathan Persens, a homeless street thug. In AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW, Foster will expertly weave these perspectives into a culturally and generationally diverse portrait of a country struggling to define itself. What is at stake for South Africa at this moment is also at stake for the region, and for the rest of the world. Intense pressure placed on developing countries by the economic crisis and rapid globalization has placed South Africa under international glare-will it be a failed prototype, or a paradigm? While we may observe with caution, we can also look to the southern tip with excitement; its future rests in the hands of South Africa's 24 and under crowd, which represents half of the country's population and whose energy and power may finally break free of their oppressive history. But to understand its future, we need to understand the remarkable period of transition that has taken place over the last several years. Douglas Foster is an associate professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, where he is director of a program that places students in South African media outlets to work as general assignment reporters. He's a regular contributor to major newspapers and magazines, including Smithsonian, the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Columbia Journalism Review, and the Washington Post Sunday Magazine. His most recent piece on the rise of Jacob Zuma is found in the June 2009 issue of Atlantic Monthly.
More like this