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Foreign Native

Category: Memoir
ISBN:   9781868427710
Publisher:  Jonathan Ball Publishers
On sale: July 2020
List price: R285
Format: Paperback
eBook ISBN
9781868427727

Foreign Native: An African Journey


RW Johnson


In Foreign Native, 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 – Harold Strachan, Tom Sharpe, Ronnie Kasrils, Helen Suzman, Frederik van zyl Slabbert, among many others – that he met along the way.

Perceptive, critical and full of verve, Foreign Native is leavened with a deep humanity that makes it a pleasure to read.

Praise for Look Back in Laughter by RW Johnson:

‘I found the book very difficult to put down … the portraits of the dons are keen and knowing, the academic intrigues both fascinate and repel the author, and never has Oxford pomposity been so cheerfully exposed.’ – Dennis Hutchinson, AMERICAN OXONIAN


RW Johnson is an Emeritus Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and was the only South African Rhodes Scholar to return to live in South Africa after the fall of apartheid. He has written thirteen books, scores of academic articles and innumerable articles for the international press. His former students include three members of the British cabinet, an editor of The Economist and a large number of leading academics and journalists. He lives in Cape Town.

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