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February 25, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE WAITING COUNTRY: A South African Witness by Mike Nicol (Gollancz/Trafalgar Square: $13.95; 211 pp., paperback original). South African novelist Mike Nicol watches in delight as his country moves from the artificial divisions of apartheid to genuine democracy. Observing the congestion at a voting station, he realizes, "There was only one way to describe the queues and the hours people waited: In this was the meaning of being enfranchised." But he also recounts the racial violence that preceded the new regime headed by Nelson Mandela, violence that ranged from terrorist bombings by the Pan-African Congress to quasi-military exercises by neo-fascist groups. Nicol exhorts his fellow South Africans to rise above that bitter legacy and strive to build a truly equitable multiethnic society.

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