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Jonathan Ball

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Paul Holden Discusses Living in London and Missing South Africa’s Political Culture

Who Rules South Africa?Paul Holden, co-author of Who Rules South Africa?: Pulling the strings in the battle for power, was interviewed by Zoha Tapia from The South African about living in the UK.

Holden said that he misses being able to discuss politics with people, which he calls “South Africa’s national sport” and says that it’s not really something that British people generally talk about. He also spoke about his work on the arms deal, which he wrote about in The Arms Deal in Your Pocket and The Devil in the Detail, which he co-wrote with Hennie Van Vuuren. Holden also discussed his future plans with Tapia, which he says may include writing a non-political book.

What do you miss about South Africa?
I miss South Africa all the time. I miss my family, my father and my older brother still live there and I miss all my friends I’ve had since childhood. I miss the sort of openness and friendliness in South Africa. Being able to go out somewhere, you could pretty much talk to everybody and nobody thinks you are that strange to do that. But here you can’t do that, they will think you are a lunatic; you just don’t talk to people. I miss the vibrancy; there is a different sort of energy in South Africa because it’s a country that is still being constructed. Whereas in UK it feels like there is a slightly more silent, traditional way of doing things. If I lived in UK there is absolutely no way I would have ended up with my first book when I was 24 years old, whereas in South Africa, that is not unheard of because people are given a chance.

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