Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first post-apartheid president, is 94 and convalescing at a rural retirement home. The country that he took over and helped lead out of apartheid has had a tumultuous two decades since the African National Congress rebel-turned-global hero was freed from 27 years of imprisonment in 1990, and since he left office in 1999. Despite the successful democratic transitions to first Thabo Mbeki and current President Jacob Zuma, South Africa has failed to live up to much of the hopeful promise that infused the Mandela years: Ravaged by AIDS, crime, soaring unemployment and crushing poverty, sprawling slums ringing modern cities and rural areas lacking the most basic infrastructure. Half of the South African population is under the age of 25, meaning that half have never known Mandela except as a free man. In his new book, “After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa,” DOUGLAS FOSTER, associate professor of journalism at Northwestern University, captures the last eight years of South Africa’s development. Foster examines whether Mandela’s dream of a nonracial, nonsexist, egalitarian society” has a chance to be realized in South Africa.
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Photo Credit: AP Images / Schalk van Zuydam