In This Review
The Lady: The Life and Times of Winnie Mandela

The Lady: The Life and Times of Winnie Mandela

By Emma Gilbey

Jonathan Cape, 1993, 328 pp.

South Africa has approached the dawn of its new era with much of the dark side of its old era still stubbornly intact behind the rhetoric of peace and healing. The deep-seated fascism of the right finds its ongoing echo in the violent political correctness of township turf wars and thuggery, here blisteringly portrayed in the first non-hagiographic biography of the antiapartheid movements favorite female icon.

Mandela's odyssey from willful Transkeian schoolgirl to bloodstained political termagant has been prime media fare, and for good reason. It is a tale with blighted virtue, love and loss, relentless persecution, and agonized attempts at damage control -- all the ingredients that make some lives more interesting than the best fiction. The author has approached her task with laudable seriousness, objectivity and skill, and the result is a riveting and far from reassuring glimpse into the past and possible future within the darker reaches of the South African struggle.