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Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Travels in South Africa

von Gavin Bell

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When Archbishop Desmond Tutu dubbed his native South Africa the "Rainbow Nation," he conjured a vision of ethnic diversity and harmony in a country with eleven official languages, two national anthems, and a parliament that shuttled between two cities. As a foreign correspondent reporting on the last days of apartheid, Gavin Bell thought it was a brave image and wondered how long it would endure. A few years later, he returned to find out what had happened to Tutu's rainbow. In his travels he found a country at odds with itself, swinging between hope and despair, buoyed by a sense of freedom and haunted by a fear of violent crime. Somewhere Over the Rainbow is not only a fine travel book by an award-winning writer, it is a compelling portrait of a country in search of an identity.… (mehr)
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As a reporter, Bell wrote only about politics, but in the late 1990s he wanted to see the sights and to learn more about the mix of people Archbishop Desmond Tutu christened the “Rainbow Nation.” So he spent six months touring the country, beginning and ending his travels (a mix of conventional sightseeing and journalistic fact-finding) in Cape Town. Bell climbed Table Mountain and visited such historically significant places as St. George’s Cathedral, site of many anti-apartheid protests, and Ruben Island, Nelson Mandela’s prison for 26 years. But he also attended a session of parliament, from which former foes now emerge arm-in-arm. He met “coloreds,” people of mixed race who feel the new African government is ignoring them, and whites like Humpies, an Afrikaans wine farmer who has adjusted to the change but is worried about crime.
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When Archbishop Desmond Tutu dubbed his native South Africa the "Rainbow Nation," he conjured a vision of ethnic diversity and harmony in a country with eleven official languages, two national anthems, and a parliament that shuttled between two cities. As a foreign correspondent reporting on the last days of apartheid, Gavin Bell thought it was a brave image and wondered how long it would endure. A few years later, he returned to find out what had happened to Tutu's rainbow. In his travels he found a country at odds with itself, swinging between hope and despair, buoyed by a sense of freedom and haunted by a fear of violent crime. Somewhere Over the Rainbow is not only a fine travel book by an award-winning writer, it is a compelling portrait of a country in search of an identity.

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