In this stunning memoir, veteran Washington Post correspondent Lynne Duke takes readers on a wrenching but riveting journey through Africa during the pivotal 1990s and brilliantly illuminates a continent where hope and humanity thrive amid unimaginable depredation and horrors.
For four years as her newspaper's Johannesburg bureau chief, Lynne Duke cut a rare figure as a black American woman foreign correspondent as she raced from story to story in numerous countries of central and southern Africa. From the battle zones of Congo-Zaire to the quest for truth and reconciliation in South Africa; from the teeming displaced person’s camps of Angola and the killing field of the Rwanda genocide to the calming Indian Ocean shores of Mozambique.
She interviewed heads of state, captains of industry, activists, tribal leaders, medicine men and women, mercenaries, rebels, refugees, and ordinary, hardworking people. And it is they, the ordinary people of Africa, who fueled the hope and affection that drove Duke’s reporting. The nobility of the ordinary African struggles, so often absent from accounts of the continent, is at the heart of Duke’s searing story.
[from the hardcover edition]
Duke covered southern Africa as Johannesburg bureau chief for The Washington Post from 1995 to 1999. Her engaging memoir provides a close-up look at the fall of Mobutu Sese Seko in the former Zaire, the ascendance of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, dramatic high points of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and many poignant vignettes of everyday African life from Cape Town to Kigali. "Armed with attitude and ready for anything," she finds that being black and female is sometimes, but not always, an occupational asset. Knowing that her dispatches will help shape American perceptions of a region she cares deeply about, she works hard to balance her anger at the brutality and venality of "ugly Africa" against her admiration for Mandela and for the fortitude and ingenuity of ordinary Africans. Equally deft at presenting vivid eyewitness descriptions and concise evaluations of failed policies, whether African or American, Duke has given us a glimpse of what first-rate reporting on Africa can be.
[from Foreign Affairs]
Pictures: Mandela's 1997 mediation efforts between Mobutu and Laurent Kabila
[That's Afrika and That's Madiba For You!]