The supplement, titled South Africa Now, was included in the 6 October 2010 edition of the newspaper. It features contributions by Professor Anton Harber, Caxton chair of journalism at Wits University, veteran journalists Simon Barber and John Battersby, AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani, South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, US ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips, Jann Turner, the director of hit South African movie White Wedding, and Miller Matola, CEO of the International Marketing Council of South Africa.
Barber, who is also the Washington-based US country manager for Brand South Africa, commissioned Big Media to produce South Africa Now, and edited it in collaboration with Mary Alexander, the former editor of MediaClubSouthAfrica.com.
“With my background as a journalist, I have tended to question the value of supplements like these, figuring they would mostly go unread and land up on the bottom of birdcages,” said Barber.
“Recently, however, Bric nations such as Russia and China started doing supplements in the Washington Post that were actually interesting to read, so I began to have second thoughts. What clinched the deal for me was knowing I could enlist the talents of Big Media’s writers, editors and designers.
“I was confident we could put something together something that was truly reflective of Brand South Africa and which would get read not just by Washington decision makers but by the captains of global finance who would be in Washington for the IMF/World Bank annual meetings when we published.”
Printed in full colour, South Africa Now features photography from the MediaClubSouthAfrica.com image library as well as a stunning American-style op-ed illustration by multi-award-winning South African graphic journalist Francois Smit.
It was designed by Irwin Manoim, Big Media’s creative director. A newspaper production and design expert with 30 years in the industry, Manoim is a joint founder and former editor of the Mail & Guardian and of the pioneering internet venture, the electronic Mail & Guardian.
“The message of South Africa Now is that South Africa matters, that it’s a country of smart, creative people who have their own ways of doing things and who are making a difference globally,” said Barber.
The supplement leads with an exploration of South Africa’s ambitious efforts to balance a growing economy with the need to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, with the most recent example being plans for a huge, US$21-billion, 5,000 megawatt solar park and a smaller solar installation on the island where Nelson Mandela was once jailed.
The front page also features a look at Soweto, a book by Jodie Bieber, the South African photographer now most famous for the now-iconic and shocking Time magazine cover featuring the mutilated face of 18-year-old Afghani girl Aisha.
Elsewhere in the supplement Motlanthe looks at Africa’s place in the new economic world order. Harber discusses media freedom in South Africa, Matola reports on efforts to fix Africa’s brand, and Turner writes about the “normal, crazy, mixed-up country” that inspired White Wedding.
Want to read more? Download South Africa Now in PDF format (2.2 MB).