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... At an enormous ‘peace’ rally in Durban at the end of February Nelson Mandela called upon the warring Inkatha and UDF factions to ‘throw your arms into the sea’, an appeal which met with considerable applause. Perhaps the loudest ovation of all, however, came when Mandela announced, at the meeting’s end, that he had ‘a wonderful present’ to offer the crowd – ‘the mother of the nation ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Paul Foot has a shocking story to tell, the story of Colin Wallace. It is, quite literally, a story of gunpowder, treason and plot. The fact that Foot’s publishers have had to rush the book out in weeks in order to beat the deadline of the new Official Secrets Act, and have deliberately forsaken all advance publicity for fear of pre-emptive action against the book, says something rather disgraceful about the difficulty of getting a fair hearing in this country ...
... President de Klerk’s further instalment of reform leaves no doubt that South Africa is moving away from the era of apartheid at some speed. His speech follows hard on a truce agreement between the ANC and Inkatha – the first step towards ending a conflict which has cost some five thousand lives in Natal and on the Reef since 1985. Whether the truce will hold and whether it will stem the creeping ethnicisation of black politics remains to be seen ...

Post-Post-Struggle

R.W. Johnson: South Africa’s Elections, 19 May 2011

... If the polls are right, the ANC will suffer its worst ever electoral reverse in the local elections due to be held in South Africa on 18 May. The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, seems poised to win not only Cape Town, its main base, but to gain seats right across the country. In the Western Cape the DA will probably win a majority of towns and cities; it will make inroads in the Northern Cape and could even evict the ANC from its Eastern Cape stronghold of Port Elizabeth ...

Diary

R.W. Johnson: Breakdown in the Bush, 10 May 2001

... Einstein under the stars with a Seventh Day Adventist, and maybe even seen a leopard. R.W. ...

Short Cuts

R.W. Johnson: Robbie Gets His Gun, 25 September 2008

... My friend Robbie’s always had a bit of a thing about guns. In a country like South Africa this is difficult to avoid. A murder rate of roughly four hundred a week and a rape every 26 seconds concentrates the mind. Since we got our freedom in 1994 we’ve had more than 270,000 murders. Once a government fails that badly to provide law and order any old Hobbesian will tell you that the social contract no longer applies ...

Diary

R.W. Johnson: Magdalen College, 19 November 2009

... Magdalen College was founded in 1458 by William Waynflete, a farmer’s son who became the bishop of Winchester and chancellor of England, and so endowed the college as to make it the richest in Oxford or Cambridge until the foundation of Cardinal College (renamed Christ Church after Wolsey’s fall). It did no harm to Magdalen that Wolsey, who was one of its fellows, himself became Henry VIII’s chancellor ...

Diary

R.W. Johnson: ‘Author Loses Leg in Lagoon’, 6 August 2009

... the reason the lagoon was polluted with such a deadly organism was to do with the dumping of raw sewage by communities living upriver. Only months later was I able to Google necrotising fasciitis and find a long list of famous people who died from the disease, usually within 24 or 48 hours of contracting it. The medics at Margate muttered something about ...

Burning Blankets

R.W. Johnson: Robert Mugabe’s latest tidy-up, 7 July 2005

... Robert Mugabe’s Operation Murambatsvina (‘driving out trash’) began on 19 May. Heavily armed militia, backed by helicopters and fighter planes, swooped down on a helpless civilian population. Mugabe’s forces have bulldozed and burned his political opponents’ shacks and makeshift shops in Zimbabwe’s cities, rounding up terrified men, women and children, and piling them onto open lorries ...

Stitched up

R.W. Johnson, 21 October 1993

Return to Paradise 
by Breyten Breytenbach.
Faber, 214 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 16989 9
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... one of his hands was left sticking through the soil. But then think, Breytenbach says, of Prince Johnson of Liberia, who had a video made of his predecessor, Sergeant Doe, being tortured to death, with Johnson talking him through it, offering him a smoke, scolding him for dirtying his pants as the torture ...

Seven Days

R.W. Johnson, 4 July 1985

The Pick of Paul JohnsonAn Anthology 
Harrap, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 245 54246 9Show More
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... Paul Johnson does not, as they say, need much introduction. Whatever one thinks of his opinions, one has to admire his frenetic energy. From 1955 to 1970 he poured forth strong left-wing views in the New Statesman, and since then has moved to pouring forth strong right-wing views in a whole host of publications, books and speeches ...

How would Richelieu and Mazarin have coped?

R.W. Johnson: Henry Kissinger, 20 September 2001

The Trial of Henry Kissinger 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 159 pp., £15, May 2001, 1 85984 631 9
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... natural or easy about this: there weren’t many Kennedy appointees who lasted the distance with Johnson. Kissinger, then, was an extraordinary bureaucratic warrior who, unlike anyone else, simultaneously held the positions of National Security Adviser, Secretary of State and chairman of the Forty Committee (overseeing covert operations). In these ...

Angry White Men

R.W. Johnson: Obama’s Electoral Arithmetic, 20 October 2011

... 267 to 225. Carter and Clinton (twice) could not have gained office without the black vote; indeed Johnson in 1964 was the last Democrat to win a majority of the white vote. He used his victory to push through the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, observing that this meant the Democrats would lose the South for a generation to ...

Trump: Some Numbers

R.W. Johnson, 3 November 2016

... especially against such an unpopular candidate as Hillary Clinton. A second point: when Lyndon Johnson passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 he said with regret that the Democrats would lose the South for a generation. His judgment proved correct. A generation on, in 2008 and 2012, the US elected an African American ...

What Buthelezi wants

R.W. Johnson, 19 December 1991

... As multi-party negotiations on a new constitution for South Africa get under way at last, there is a widespread impression that what is really in prospect is a two-party deal between the Government and the ANC. Of the many groups this leaves out of account, Chief Buthelezi’s Inkatha movement is the most significant. In preparation for this new phase, Inkatha has transformed itself from a ‘national cultural movement’ into the Inkatha Freedom Party ...

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