Mandela's World: The International Dimension of South Africa's Political Revolution 1990-1999
Ngcoya, Mvuselelo, African Studies Review
James Barber. Mandela's World: The International Dimension of South Africa's Political Revolution 1990-1999. Athens: Ohio University Press/Oxford: James Currey Ltd., 2004. viii + 214 pp. References. Index. $44.95. Cloth. $29.95. Paper.
Many observers predicted an apocalyptic end of white rule in South Africa. Instead, in the post-Cold War world bogged down in a labyrinth of civil wars and chaos, the Caesarian birth of a democratic South Africa came as "a beacon of light" (85). It is hardly surprising, therefore, that South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy has spawned a growing body of scholarship. James Barber's book is a welcome addition to it.
Despite the title, Mandela's World is not about Nelson Mandela as an individual; rather, it looks at "the international aspect of South Africa's development during the 1990s" (4). In this third book in a series on South Africa's foreign policy from 1945 to 1999, Barber describes and analyzes the international aspects of what he calls South Africa's "political revolution." The book is divided into four chronological sections. The first section presents the interaction between South Africa's domestic and international affairs from World War II to the end of the 1980s. In the second part, Barber focuses on the period of negotiations when the African National Congress and the National Party government were vying for external support to strengthen their negotiating positions. The third section explores the contrasting views about the foundations of the new South Africa. The final section examines the different international roles that the new government had cast for itself.
One of the strengths as well as weaknesses of this book is its brevity-a strength because Barber is able to capture succinctly the broad scope of South Africa's transition; a weakness because at times one is left begging for more. For example, in a mere sixteen pages, the chapter on the domestic-foreign affairs interface attempts to cover a slew of subjects including migration, labor, HIV/AIDS, crime, the drug trade, the environment, tourism, and elections. …