Rian Malan

F.W. de Klerk was a hero of our time

FW de Clerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa, has died at the age of 85. In 2010 Rian Malan wrote the following piece for The Spectator about his part in history. I almost punched an Englishman the other day. We were sitting in a bar, talking about the 20th anniversary of F.W. de Klerk’s Great

South Africa Notebook

In recent years, living in South Africa has been a bit like having cancer. The malaise eating us from within was corruption and there seemed to be no cure, which is why there was no dancing in the streets when our dreadful president, Jacob Zuma, was finally eased out of office on Valentine’s Day. For

The day of reckoning is nigh

I think this should begin with a truth-in-journalism disclosure: I know R.W. Johnson well enough to call him Bill. Since this opens me to charges of bias, let me start by acknowledging that Professor Johnson (a former leader of the ‘Magdalen Mafia’ at Oxford and author of a witty book on the subject) is unpopular

At least South Africa has the world’s best murder trials

 Johannesburg I was astonished, in London the other week, to discover how closely you Britons were following the Oscar Pistorius trial. I was invited to Rosie Boycott’s breakfast club, which meets on Friday mornings in a west London coffee house. The table was full of charming old geezers of approximately my vintage, all clearly Oxbridge

Witch-hunting capitalism in Africa

   Johannesburg  I stumbled upon a grand story the other day, thanks largely to my girlfriend Shmerah, who is doing a masters in anthropology at the nearby University of the Witwatersrand. One afternoon some weeks ago, Shmerah informed me that she and her classmates were excited about the imminent arrival in Johannesburg of the Italian-American

The vultures waiting for Nelson Mandela’s death

Johannesburg I just called my pal Colin, a TV news cameraman who has been parked for days outside the Pretoria hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated. I said, can you please tell me when the old man is going to die so that I can sort out some deadlines with the Spectator? He said, sorry,

Algerian Notebook

• This is surely a mistake, I thought, stooping to kiss the hand of Algeria’s minister of culture. Madame la Ministre Toumi Khalida is throwing a party to mark the start of Algeria’s annual book fair, the Salon International du Livre. This year’s line-up includes a contingent of South Africans led by Breyten Breytenbach, the

Bad Juju

The Mandela years are well and truly over. Now, sharp-suited Mugabe fan Julius Malema has the people’s ear It is spring here in Johannesburg, and in the spring, one’s thoughts turn to throttling Jonny Steinberg, a newspaper columnist who would have us believe that Julius Malema is about to be expelled from the ruling African

Don’t let fear spoil the World Cup

South Africa has all but bankrupted itself to stage a glorious World Cup, says Rian Malan. Shame that all foreigners can do is worry about the nation’s crime rates Here in Johannesburg, the most striking symptom of World Cup fever is a steady procession of taxis bringing foreign correspondents to my door in search of

F.W. de Klerk: a hero of our time

I almost punched an Englishman the other day. We were sitting in a bar, talking about the 20th anniversary of F.W. de Klerk’s Great Leap Forward of 2 February 1990 — the day he rocked the world by announcing that he was about to unban the revolutionary movements, free Nelson Mandela and turn South Africa

Happy Christmas from Jo’burg

Once upon a time, in the desolate Great Karoo, my father pointed out a distant line of bluegum trees marking the route Father Christmas was likely to follow when he came to deposit gifts under our Christmas tree. I was around four at the time, but even then I sensed something odd about Christmas in

Diary – 18 July 2009

As Johannesburg slid deeper into recession, I put in a bid for a rundown property in the suburb of Emmarentia. The ad said, ‘Bargain of the year! Two houses for the price of one!’ My offer was accepted and here I am, new owner of a rambling commune with seven toilets, six tenants and five

Shame on Mugabe’s stooges

Rian Malan is appalled that Zimbabwe has been put in charge of Sustainable Development by the UN — and says it is symptomatic of the way in which Mugabe is indulged by foolish go-gooders from New York to South Africa Johannesburg On the day that Bob Mugabe’s genocidal regime acceded to the chair of the

South Africa: not civil war but sad decay

Rian Malan, acclaimed author of My Traitor’s Heart, says that the rise of Jacob Zuma as a serious presidential contender is a terrible symbol of his country’s inexorable decline into disorder, political corruption and maladministration When the winter rains closed in on Cape Town I thought, bugger this, I’m selling up and moving somewhere sunny.

The Great White Hyena

Cape Town ‘This is a goer,’ declares Deon du Plessis. It’s Sunday afternoon, and the Great White Hyena is presiding over a news conference in the Johannesburg offices of the Daily Sun, the largest daily in Africa. Mr du Plessis is publisher and part-owner. Seated before him are his editor, Themba Khumalo, an amiable Zulu

Africa isn’t dying of Aids

Cape Town It was the eve of Aids Day here. Rock stars like Bono and Bob Geldof were jetting in for a fundraising concert with Nelson Mandela, and the airwaves were full of dark talk about megadeath and the armies of feral orphans who would surely ransack South Africa’s cities in 2017 unless funds were