Alec Russell is the World News Editor of the Financial Times. He started his career as a journalist in Romania in the aftermath of the December 1989 revolution. He was in Bosnia and Croatia during the war from 1991 to 1993 and then spent five years based in South Africa as the Daily Telegraph’s correspondent. He then became the paper’s foreign editor for the Iraq War. In 2007 he returned to South Africa for the Financial Times for a second stint. Alec’s books include, Prejudice and Plum Brandy published by Michael Joseph in 1993, about his time in the Balkans and Big Men, Little Men, published by Macmillan in 1999 and NYU Press in 2000, a reflection on his time in South Africa in the mid 1990s. His writing has won several awards and his dispatches from southern Africa have earned him nominations for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and for British foreign correspondent of the year.
Alec’s latest book, After Mandela: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa, was published by Hutchinson in 2009.
Assistant's name: Laura McNeill
Telephone number: 020 7344 1033
AFTER MANDELA: THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF SOUTH AFRICA
In the early 1990s, the African National Congress, led by Nelson Mandela, engaged in a historic and peaceful transition to power in South Africa. For some, the story of South Africa ended with that moment – the victory of the ANC over the bitter injustice of the apartheid regime, and Mandela’s astonishing mission of reconciliation. Yet while the economy has grown steadily, as has a fledgling middle class, and black South Africans have attained positions of great wealth and power, rampant inequality still remains. Violence is endemic in the townships and in the major cities. Race relations are fraught as whites struggle to find their place in the new order. President Thabo Mbeki’s denial of the AIDS epidemic has led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths and been morally and politically disastrous. Mbeki’s failure to check the abuses of Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship in Zimbabwe has tarnished South Africa’s reputation abroad and baffled Mbeki’s former friends. South Africa should be the continent’s greatest hope, yet it stands at a crossroads as it faces its most serious test since the end of white rule. Uncertainty over its trajectory intensified with the election of Jacob Zuma, a charismatic populist who is embroiled in a corruption scandal, as Mandela’s second successor as leader of the ANC, in 2007. This controversial choice unleashed turmoil within Africa’s grandest liberation movement. Might it also signal the start of an unhappy new chapter in the post-apartheid story?
The collapse of neighbouring Zimbabwe is a chilling example of how a revolutionary party can ossify in power and lose sight of its ideals. The journey from Mandela to Zuma is a political and moral epic, populated with extraordinary characters, and with the fate of South Africa at its core In this expertly researched and beautifully told account, award-winning journalist Alec Russell draws on his deep knowledge of South Africa and his relationships with its most important figures – Mbeki, Zuma, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and of course Mandela himself – to address the questions facing the nation. At a turbulent time for many African countries as they emerge into the second phase of the post-independence era, this book will have a wide appeal for Africa-watchers everywhere.
PUBLICATION DATE: 7 May 2009