Vermont Conversation: What the world can learn from South Africa

Evan Lieberman, left, and his new book, "Until We Have Won Our Liberty." Images courtesy of Evan Lieberman

The Vermont Conversation with David Goodman is a VTDigger podcast that features in-depth interviews on local and national issues with politicians, activists, artists, changemakers and citizens who are making a difference. Listen below, and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts or Spotify to hear more.

As countries around the world, including the U.S., confront rising authoritarianism, one country may offer insight into how democracy can triumph over minority rule.

South Africa was supposed to go up in flames when Nelson Mandela became president in 1994. White people feared that the Black majority would take their revenge on those who long oppressed them.

Instead, Mandela oversaw a peaceful transition to democracy. A quarter century after that negotiated transfer of power, a multiracial democracy took root and blossomed.

I witnessed this remarkable democratic transformation when I reported from South Africa in the late 1990s and wrote a book about the transition from apartheid.

Evan Lieberman offers a fresh take on South Africa’s journey to democracy in his new book, “Until We Have Won Our Liberty: South Africa After Apartheid.” Lieberman is a total professor of political science and contemporary Africa at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“At this time when the idea of democracy is under assault, South Africa shows us that (democracy) is still a really promising and probably our best political solution, particularly in diverse societies,” Lieberman said. South Africa offers “a reminder that we can solve our problems through a combination of elections, good institutions, deliberation and a public spiritedness that is intrinsic to democratic practice.”

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David Goodman

About David

David Goodman is an award-winning journalist and the author of a dozen books, including four New York Times bestsellers that he co-authored with his sister, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. His work has appeared in Mother Jones, New York Times, Outside, Boston Globe and other publications. He is the host of The Vermont Conversation, a VTDigger podcast featuring in-depth interviews about local and national topics. The Vermont Conversation is also an hour-long weekly radio program that can be heard on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on WDEV/Radio Vermont.

Email: [email protected]

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