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Mandela, Mobutu, and Me

A Newswoman's African Journey

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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.

MANDELA, MOBUTU, AND ME is a richly detailed, clear-eyed account of the hard realities Duke discovered, including the devastation wrought by ruthless, rapacious dictators like Mobutu Sese Seko and his successor, Laurent Kabila, in the Congo, and appalling indifference of Europeans and Americans to the legacy of their own exploitation of the continent and its people. But Duke also records with admiration the visionary leadership and personal style of Nelson Mandela in south Africa as he led his country’s inspiring transition from apartheid in the twilight of his incredible life.

Whether it was touring underground gold and copper mines, learning to carry water on her head, filing stories by flashlight or dodging gunmen, Duke’s tour of Africa reveals not only the spirit and travails of an amazing but troubled continent -- it also explores the heart and fearlessness of a dedicated journalist.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 18, 2002 – As the Washington Post's Johannesburg bureau chieffrom 1995 to 1999, Duke covered some of the bloodier postcolonial wars of southern Africa as well as one of the most constructive struggles: the shaping of a postapartheid government. Her interviews with Mandela and Mobutu "bookend" even more eye-opening conversations with common folk: township women struggling for clean water, AIDS nurses battling superstitious villagers and even a quiet old Zulu man impressed to meet his "first foreign black folk." A consummate journalist, Duke gives readers concise but thorough background briefings on a country's relevant history before cutting to the chase: who's taken control now, why, and what that means for the balance of power. Except for some passing comments, it's not until the end that Duke explores her own complex relationship with the Africa she so clearly loves. As an African-American, she feels connected with the struggles she's reporting, while aware that being black does not make her Angolan, Ugandan or even African. She admires the positive—Mandela's commitment to peace, Tutu's spiritual force—but is equally willing to condemn the negative—Mbeki's blind eye to the AIDS epidemic, Kabila's opportunism, Hutu genocide squads, etc. As a frontline reporter, Duke never forgets "when the elephants fight, the grass suffers": political struggles on top often mean death and destruction for the ordinary working people down below. She deftly combines solid information and personal perspective to produce a powerful, readable chronicle.
Mandela, Mobutu, and Me
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jan 21, 2003
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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