On the even of South Africa’s second democratic election in 1999 as Nelson Mandela made way for Thabo Mbeki, both foreign and South African media outlets could not contain themselves with the “What happens After Mandela?” questions.

That same nonsense is being peddled on the front page of The New York Times in a piece that does not tell us much. The piece is actually an excuse to promote a new book about Mandela’s time in prison (for which I will honor Mandela forever).   But this should have been in the Arts section instead of being offered as news analysis.

[BTW, the premise of these “After Mandela?” newspaper articles, magazine pieces or TV inserts pretend that nothing has happened in South Africa since 1999 or they spent their time lamenting some perfect period between 1994-1999. The assumption at the time was also that Mandela would depart from the Presidency, South Africa would fall apart. Like that happened. (It also made assumptions about the political and economic stability of the Mandela era as well as some of Mandela’s more wrong-headed policies-like his failure to tackle AIDS, the over-emphasis on “reconciliation” or the wrong-headed economic policies  which Mbeki merely perfected. It also pretends that Mandela can be separated from the current ANC leadership, which he endorses. But I’ll stop here.]

Further Reading

No more caricatures

Engaging seriously with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life could help us understand how South Africa got where it is and where it’s going.