Dateline Soweto: Travels with Black South African Reporters

William Finnegan, Author
William Finnegan, Author HarperCollins Publishers $18.95 (244p) ISBN 978-0-06-015932-0
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
For six tense weeks in 1986, Finnegan ( Crossing the Line ) attached himself to a handful of black reporters working for the white, liberal Johannesburg Star , taking notes for this book, which presents a vividly different view of apartheid. Led by the enterprising and gutsy Jon Qwelane, these men and women ventured into black townships and ``bush ghettos'' in search of stories they had no assurance would be printed. Their dangerous work was complicated by the South African army, the ``pretenders'' (cops posing as TV crews), and above all by the mistrust of the militant black community. As seen mainly through the eyes of Qwelane, Herbert Mabuza and others, the book offers an especially painful view of what Finnegan calls ``the ragged, slow-motion revolution that convulses South Africa.'' Among issues explored are the split news values that prevail under apartheid, government press policy, and the brutally arbitrary behavior of the army. Regarding the latter, Bishop Desmond Tutu's comment is particularly chilling: ``They want to kill. They don't know how to deal with peace.'' Finnegan is a staff writer for the New Yorker , where portions of this book originally appeared. (October)
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X