The recovery of Africa’s philosopher-king – A Jacana Pocket Biography: Thabo Mbeki by Adekeye Adebajo
New from Jacana Media, A Jacana Pocket Biography: Thabo Mbeki by Adekeye Adebajo:
Mbeki was a complex figure, full of contradictions and paradoxes: a rural child who became an urban sophisticate; a prophet of Africa’s Renaissance who was also an anglophile; a committed young Marxist who, while in power, embraced conservative economic policies and protected white corporate interests; a rational and dispassionate thinker who was particularly sensitive to criticism and dissent; a champion of African self-reliance who relied excessively on foreign capital and promoted a continental economic plan – Nepad – that was disproportionately dependent on foreign aid; and a thoughtful intellectual who supported policies on HIV/Aids that withheld antiretroviral drugs from infected people, resulting in hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths.
Mbeki is the most important African political figure of his generation and a dominant figure in South African politics for 14 years. A pan-African philosopher-king who spent two decades in exile, as president of Africa’s most industrialised state, he set out a sweeping vision of an African Renaissance.
As a key liberation leader in exile, Mbeki was instrumental in his party’s anti-apartheid struggle. During the South African transition, he helped build one of the world’s most respected constitutional democracies. As president, despite some successes, he was unable to overcome South Africa’s inherited socioeconomic challenges, and his disastrous Aids policies will remain a major blotch in his legacy. He will, however, be remembered more as a foreign policy president for his peace-making efforts in Africa and in the building of continental institutions such as the African Union and Nepad.
This book seeks to rescue Mbeki from South African parochialism and to restore him to a pan-African pantheon.
About the author
Adekeye Adebajo is Executive Director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town, and Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg. A former Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, he is the author of The Curse of Berlin: Africa after the Cold War and editor of Africa’s Peacemakers: Nobel Peace Laureates of African Descent. He is a columnist for Business Day (South Africa) and the Guardian (Nigeria).