Outsmarting Apartheid

An Oral History of South Africa's Cultural and Educational Exchange with the United States, 1960–1999

Edited by Daniel Whitman
Introduction by Daniel Whitman
Assisted by Kari Jaksa

Subjects: Political Science, International Relations, Social Movements
Paperback : 9781438451206, 470 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438451213, 470 pages, May 2014

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Table of contents

Dan Whitman
Chronology of South African History
Part 1. Arts
Brahms, from Malmesbury to Carnegie Hall
Franklin Larey
“Education Was My Weapon”
Sindive Magona
Market Theatre Co-Founder Discovers the American Stage
Malcolm Purkey
Dance, Too, Can Change a Society
Adrienne Sichel
“Do You Sell Stamps or Don’t You?” (Breaking the Cultural Boycott)
Brooks Spector
Part 2. Education
Persona Non Grata Becomes a Professor
David Coplan
Scrambled Eggs and Science Teaching in Pretoria
Mary Beth Gosende
“A Gill of All Trades”
Gill Jacot Guillarmod

Fullbrights, the TRC, and an MA in Washington
Monica Joyi

A Breach of Racial Divides in Training Military Leaders
Edna van Harte
An Educational Advisor Wouldn’t Take No for an Answer
Carol Wilson
Part 3. Law and Parliament
A South African Magistrate and the American Correctional System
Siraj Desai
“The People’s Judge”
Willem Heath
Fulbright Scholar, Yale Professor, Member of Parliament
Wilmot James
“Steve, I Can’t Tell You How Meaningful That Day Was for Me”
Steve McDonald

A Journey to Parliament via the United States
Sejamothopo Motau
Bridging Political Divides
Dan Adriaan Neser and Jenny Neser
Operation Crossroads Africa and Lifelong Learning
Eshaam Palmer
Part 4. Public Service
Abuse No More
Sheila Goodgall
Our Man in Pretoria: Three Tours in South Africa
Robert Gosende
ACAO under Apartheid, PAO under Democracy
Thomas N. Hull
The Boss Said He Could Stand Up to Anybody
Frank Sassman

Walking in Another’s Shoes
Klaas Skosana

Breaching the Walls on a Park Bench
Jerome Vogel

Part 5. Science and Research
Anyone’s Medical Doctor of Choice
Gilbert A. Lawrence
A Life of Firsts: The Science of Joints and Cartilage
Shirley Motaung
Two Degrees of the Universe
Karel Nel
Part 6. Social Engagement and Community Empowerment
A Spouse Brings South Africans Together
Bonnie Brown
We All Invited All
Timothy Carney

Social Work and the Cleveland International Program
Desmond Victor Daniels
“This Is the Kind of Dialogue We Need”
Robert C. Heath
Discovering American Freedom with Operation Crossroads Africa
Wallace Mgoqi
Bringing Head Start to South Africa
Virginia Petersen
“Just Give Him a Chance,” and She Did
Ruth Spector
Part 7. Editor’s Final Note
Dan Whitman

Inspiring oral history of the impact of cultural and educational exchange between South Africa and the United States during apartheid.


For almost forty years, under the watchful eye of the apartheid regime, some three thousand South Africans participated in cultural and educational exchange with the United States. Exposure to American democracy brought hope during a time when social and political change seemed unlikely. In the end the process silently triumphed over the resistance of authorities, and many of the individuals who participated in the program later participated in South Africa's first democratic elections, in 1994, and now occupy key positions in academia, the media, parliament, and the judiciary. In Outsmarting Apartheid, Daniel Whitman, former Program Development Officer at the US Embassy in Pretoria, interviews the South Africans and Americans who administered, advanced, and benefited from government-funded exchange. The result is a detailed account of the workings and effectiveness of the US Information Agency and a demonstration of the value of "soft power" in easing democratic transition in a troubled area.

Daniel Whitman is Assistant Professor of Foreign Policy at the Washington Semester Program at American University. He is the author of A Haiti Chronicle: The Undoing of a Latent Democracy, 1999–2001. Kari Jaksa is Foreign Service Officer for the US Department of State, currently posted in Shanghai, China.


"Outsmarting Apartheid is a major contribution to the study of 'soft diplomacy. ' It is a wonderful picture of how the public diplomacy section of an embassy works and the positive impact it can have on advancing US interests. The detail of daily life under apartheid for South Africans of all races is fascinating and will become more important as memories of that period recede. " — John Campbell, author of Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink, Updated Edition

"This book fills an important void in the literature—it provides great insight, from the point of view of actual participants, in the dismantling of apartheid and the construction of a postapartheid democratic system in South Africa. " — John Mukum Mbaku, author of Corruption in Africa: Causes, Consequences, and Cleanups