Life, politics in South Africa next subject of UHV lecture series

April 13, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.
Updated April 12, 2013 at 11:13 p.m.

In telling the story of South Africa after the end of apartheid, author Douglas Foster alternates giving the perspective of presidents with the narratives of six young people.

On Thursday, Foster will present stories, video and audio about the next generation of South Africans during the second installment of the University of Houston-Victoria Provost's Lecture Series. "After Mandela: The Struggle For Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa."

In researching his 2012 book, Foster said he got to know South Africa President Jacob Zuma well when Zuma was moving up the political hierarchy. Foster got to know an HIV-infected teenager and a homeless orphan through group interviews and hitting the streets.

"I was able to then navigate the understanding of an emerging black elite, and in alternating chapters, move through the circle of young people and tell a generational story," Foster said.

Students in a UHV fall "Intercultural Communication" class taught by Macarena Hernandez, the Victoria Advocate Endowed Professor of the Humanities, read "After Mandela" and participated in a discussion with Foster on Skype.

Hernandez, who is teaching the book again this semester, said many of her students were too young to remember when Nelson Mandela took office in 1994.

"What the book has done is challenge my students' perceptions of South Africa and what they imagine that country to be," Hernandez said. "The book so brilliantly humanizes the real stories and struggles behind the headlines"

Jeffrey Cass, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs, said Foster's lecture will be of interest to the community as well as UHV students, faculty and staff.

"This is the type of presentation we had in mind when we launched this new lecture series," Cass said.

Kelvin Rudd, a junior communication major who took Hernandez's class, said he became deeply inspired by Foster's book.

"After reading a few chapters and immediately connecting with a homeless boy named Jonathan, I found it hard to put the book down," Rudd said. "Douglas used vivid descriptions to depict the rural areas of South Africa and shared insight on Africa's struggle with the AIDS virus."



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