‘The rainbow nation’ was the hopeful term coined to describe post-apartheid South Africa, but George Alagiah’s thriller explores how hope was overshadowed by corruption.
Combining fast-paced plotting with Alagiah’s deep knowledge of the region, The Burning Land addresses the moral issues at the heart of the rainbow nation.
The Burning Land is a political thriller that contrasts the perception of a post-apartheid “rainbow nation” of equal opportunities with the corrupt and often violent reality, in which the gap between rich and poor grows wider by the day. Shady deals by people at the top are resulting in large tracts of the country being sold to foreign investors, leaving those who farmed it without jobs or homes. Activist Lesedi Motlantshe, son of a prominent anti-apartheid campaigner who is now busy lining his pockets, is murdered. Childhood friends Lindi Seaton, the well-intentioned daughter of white liberals who works in conflict resolution, and Kagiso Rapabane, the activist son of the Seatons’ former housekeeper, form an awkward alliance in order to discover the truth. Although Alagiah makes fairly heavy weather of the necessary scene-setting and exposition, it’s worth hanging in there, as the plot shifts up a gear and becomes a gripping tale of events spinning out of control in a country struggling to redefine itself.