Tuesday, April 21, 2009

South Africa's unfulfilled hope

Award-winning journalist Alec Russell was in South Africa to witness the fall of apartheid and the remarkable reconciliation of Nelson Mandela’s rule; and returned in 2007-2008 to see Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki, risk the country’s reputation. South Africa is now perched on a precipice, as it prepares to elect Jacob Zuma as president on April 21st—signaling a potential slide back to the bad old days of post-colonial African leadership, and disaster for a country that was once the beacon of hope for the continent. Drawing on his long relationships with all the key senior figures including Mandela, Mbeki, Desmond Tutu, and Zuma, and a host of South Africans he has known over the years, Alec Russell’s Bring Me My Machine Gun: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa, from Mandela to Zuma is an expertly observed and reported account of South Africa’s great tragedies and unfulfilled promise.

My conversation with Alec Russell: