The Edmond Sun


December 23, 2012

Author examines multi-racial future of South Africa

EDMOND — Douglas Foster is an American journalist who lived in South Africa for eight years after  Nelson Mandela left the presidency of that country in 1999. He has written a book titled “After Mandela, The Struggle For Freedom In Post-Apartheid South Africa” in which he documents the problems that nation has confronted that has made it difficult for its post Mandela leaders to improve the lives of all of its people. Those dilemmas  include widespread poverty and unemployment among black and mixed race citizens as well as an AIDS epidemic that has resulted in the premature deaths of thousands of South African.  

Crime also is a problem in South Africa, and Foster reports on how people of all races there have been assaulted and robbed by criminals. That nation has been ruled by the African National Congress, which is known by the acronym “ANC” since the first all-race election was held there in 1994, and after Mandela left office that party selected his deputy president, Thabo Mbeki, to succeed him. Foster credits Mbeki for his free market economic policies that led to sustained economic growth in South Africa and also for his black empowerment programs that helped to create a new black middle class.

But the author castigates Mbeki for the stance he initially took regarding AIDS. Mbeki denied the existence of that malady for some time, and refused to permit the distribution of antiretroviral drugs that could have saved the lives of many of his people. Mbeki created a rift within the ANC when he fired his long-term friend and deputy president Jacob Zuma in response to allegations that Zuma had taken bribes from European firms that wished to sell military equipment to South Africa. Zuma rallied his supporters within the ANC and Mbeki was forced from office and Zuma succeeded him.

Foster details how Zuma, who remains South Africa’s chief executive today, engaged in a variety of questionable arrangements with wealthy businessmen that have allowed him and his large family to live in luxury despite his modest government salary. But the author also makes clear that the South African president has reached out to all of the different racial and ethnic groups of that nation and also has been an ally of the U.S. on many international issues. Foster was in South Africa in 2010 when that nation hosted the Soccer World Cup, and he describes how that experience brought all South Africans together in a spirit of national pride.

He recounts how shortly after taking office Nelson Mandela attended a rugby tournament in which the South African team, the Springboks, played. Rugby is a sport that is played primarily by whites in that nation, and when the Springbok team won the tournament Mandela came onto the field when the trophy was presented to them wearing a Springbok jersey and the white spectators began to chant his name. That event inspired the film “Invictus,” and Foster quotes Mandela as saying at that time that “Sport has the power to change the world. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial boundaries.”

And the truth of that observation is evident to anyone who has attended an Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game. The author  reports that when he attended World Cup games he was embraced by South Africans of all races who thanked him for coming.  And despite the problems that confront South Africa, the author believes that it has a bright future as a multi-racial democracy and that it will contribute to the development of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa in the years to come.

WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is an Oklahoma City attorney.

Text Only
  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results