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January Sun

One Day, Three Lives, a South African Town

A stunning portrait of a town in the apartheid South Africa of 20 years ago, and with a new introduction telling what has happened in South Africa and that town in the intervening years, a chronicle that earned the author an invitation from the imprisoned Nelson Mandela to collaborate with him on his autobiography.

Richard Stengel journeyed to South Africa in the late 1980s to chronicle life under apartheid. He ended up spending months in a small rural town where the white authorities were attempting to forcibly remove a black township. He tells this moving story through the lives of three families—one white, one black, one Indian—over the course of a single day for each of them. The private lives of each family reveal what it was like to live in a society where everyone is judged by the color of his or her skin.​

Stengel reveals the hopes and dreams of each of these families, and their resilient optimism about the future. In a new introduction, Stengel describes how some of those hopes even came to pass with the eventual release of Nelson Mandela and the election of the country’s first truly democratic government.

Photograph © Mary Pfaff Stengel

Richard Stengel was Time’s sixteenth from 2006 to 2013. He is also the author of several books, including Mandela's Way and Information Wars. He graduated from Princeton and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

More books from this author: Richard Stengel