Jennifer Szalai at the NYT:
It was nothing short of a miracle — that was what South African schoolchildren were taught when Nelson Mandela was elected president in 1994, in the country’s first fully democratic elections. Apartheid, the brutal system of white minority rule that made South Africa a global pariah, was over. As Eve Fairbanks writes in “The Inheritors,” her new book about the decades before and after that transition, its miraculousness “was like mathematics, amazing but incontrovertible.”
But Malaika, one of the central figures in this account, remembers that her teachers’ soaring language seemed completely out of step with what she endured in her daily life. Born a few years before the end of apartheid, she continued to live in a shack in Soweto, a Black township on the outskirts of Johannesburg. She and her mother, Dipuo, were still poor.