When South Africa Called, We Answered:
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: This is probably the worst time to write and release a book about my involvement in the long struggle to free South Africa. It's a bad time because even as the country celebrates its 20th anniversary as a democracy with elections slated for next week, there has never been more rancor and anger in a land we all wanted to see as a true "rainbow nation" -- a model for the world because of how it achieved a relatively peaceful transition from white rule and promoted racial reconciliation.
My new book, When South Africa Called, We Answered: How Solidarity Helped Topple Apartheid, about the global solidarity movement has been published (actually pre-published) by ColdType.net, a Canadian- based website and online publication run by Tony Sutton, a former editor of Johannesburg's classic Drum Magazine, often spoken of as the Life Magazine for the black communities during the glory days of resistance. You can download it for free as a PDF from coldtype.net.
I wrote it, and released it quickly after a serious health scare, now happily abated, because I wanted to be sure that the history of the media projects I have been associated with over the decades, from the all-star music album "Sun City" by the 58-star Artists United Against Apartheid, the TV series South Africa Now, and my work with Nelson Mandela whose story I tell in the book, Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela (Madibabook.com), gets told in one place.
As I was writing about Mandela heroic life, I thought there might be value in writing my own memoir too, by compiling the many essays I wrote alongside the media work I have initiated about South Africa for decades as an expression of solidarity. But I also know, as is all too often the case with a lot of my work, the timing may be very problematic, if not totally off.
The global anti-apartheid movement is long gone, and now, so is Madiba, (the clan name for Mandela) the larger than life leader who largely inspired it. With all the memorializing, many confess to be "Mandela-ed out." His life has been feted in print, and on the big screen, most recently by the epic movie Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. The press has mostly moved on.
The news media is now more focused on red meat for gossip: the tabloid drama of the trial there of Oscar Pistorius, South Africa's well-known disabled runner accused of intentionally shooting his high-profile girlfriend in a tragic and bloody late-night confrontation or accident.