At a time when many democracies are under strain around the world, Until We Have Won Our Liberty shines new light on the signal achievements of one of the contemporary era’s most closely watched transitions away from minority rule. South Africa’s democratic development has been messy, fiercely contested, and sometimes violent. But as Evan Lieberman argues, it has also offered a voice to the voiceless, unprecedented levels of government accountability, and tangible improvements in quality of life.
Lieberman opens with a first-hand account of the hard-fought 2019 national election, and how it played out in Mogale City, a post-Apartheid municipality created from Black African townships and White Afrikaner suburbs. From this launching point, he examines the complexities of South Africa’s multiracial society and the unprecedented democratic experiment that began with the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994. While acknowledging the enormous challenges many South Africans continue to face—including unemployment, inequality, and discrimination—Lieberman draws on the country’s history and the experience of comparable countries to demonstrate that elected Black-led governments have, without resorting to political extremism, improved the lives of millions. In the context of open and competitive politics, citizens have gained access to housing, basic services, and dignified treatment to a greater extent than during any prior period.
Countering much of the conventional wisdom about contemporary South Africa, Until We Have Won Our Liberty offers hope for the enduring impact of democratic ideals.
Related media / Speaking engagements
- Jan 2023: I’ll be in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Mogale City and London, exact dates, TBD: Please be in touch if you’d like me to come speak to your organization.
- Oct. 20, 2022: Council on Foreign Relations (by invitation)
- Sept. 22, 2022: Interview with Aubrey Masango, on South African Radio 702
- Sept 20, 2022: NYU Wagner School of Public Policy, Conflict Series
- Sept 14, 2022: MIT Center for International Studies Starr Forum, on the Free Press and Democracy in conversation with Eve Fairbanks and the editors of the Daily Maverick.
- July 28, 2022: Institute of Current World Affairs discussion — Has South African Democracy Failed?
- July 21, 2022: SF World Affairs Council: Interview with Hayde Adams
- July 10, 2022: Interview with David Goodman on the Vermont Conversation (VTDigger/NPR)
- June 7, 2022: Interview on Democracy Paradox podcast
- June 1, 2022: Ideas Podcast on the New Books Network
- May 19, 2022: Profile in MIT News
- May 6, 2022: The Promise of South Africa’s Democracy in Project Syndicate.
- April 2022: South Africa’s Successful Democracy (with Rorisang Lekalake) in the Journal of Democracy