AFTER APARTHEID by Sebastian Mallaby


The Future of South Africa
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 In a lively and carefully reasoned analysis, Mallaby, the Economist's Africa correspondent, offers a cautiously optimistic prognosis for postapartheid South Africa. With both apartheid and the cold war over, Mallaby examines South Africa--and the entire continent--without the constraints that ideological imperatives once exerted on unbiased reporting. Accordingly, while always noting the devastating impact of apartheid politically on South Africa, its legacy of grossly inadequate housing and education for blacks (in 1988, only 734 black high-school seniors in the whole country passed the final exam in math), and its profound social consequences, Mallaby discusses subjects hitherto considered taboo. Of particular interest are his comments on: tribalism; the failure of the ANC leadership to confront the rise of AIDS; the dangers in the ANC's continuing failure to curb the violence in the townships; the ANC's need to disassociate itself from militants like Winnie Mandela and Chris Hani; and the great African dilemma of an educated elite eager to modernize a society that still has many ties--from witchcraft to land held in common tenure--to an older past. Mallaby believes that the ANC, after its initial euphoria, is becoming increasingly pragmatic--and he does not fear a white backlash. Paradoxically, he believes that South Africans' current pessimism and ``disillusion with politics, may save them'' from the false optimism that characterized African independence in the 1960's. ``Pessimism,'' he points out, ``may help to create a gritty realism'' that will promote ``individual diligence'' and avoid ``self-defeating ambition in government.'' A persuasive and realistic case, well put. Essential reading for all those who care about South Africa and its neighbors.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-8129-1938-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1992


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