A 'foreign native's' journey from enthusiastic Africanist to political realist

15 April 2020 - 13:12
RW Johnson's memoir 'Foreign Native: An African Journey'.
RW Johnson's memoir 'Foreign Native: An African Journey'.
Image: Supplied

In Foreign Native: An African Journey RW Johnson looks back with affection and humour on his life in Africa.

From schooldays in Durban – fresh off the aeroplane from Merseyside – to later years as an academic, director of the Helen Suzman Foundation and formidable political commentator, he has produced an entertaining and occasionally eye-popping memoir brimming with history, anecdote and insight.

Johnson charts his evolution from enthusiastic, left-leaning Africanist to political realist, relating the episodes that influenced his intellectual worldview, including time spent among the exiled liberation movements in London during the 1960s, a sojourn in newly independent Guinea and more recent forays into Zimbabwe.

There are wonderful stories, some hilarious, others filled with pathos, about the multitude of characters.

About the author

Johnson is an Emeritus Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and was the only South African Rhodes Scholar to return to live in SA after the fall of apartheid. He is the author of 13 books, scores of academic articles and innumerable articles for the international press.

His former students include three members of the current British cabinet, an editor of The Economist and a large number of leading academics and journalists. He lives in Cape Town.