Journalist, author, speaker
Interviewed via videoconference
"I was born in Nova-Scotia, Canada, in 1961, in the small town of Greenwood. In 1990, I obtained the job of my dreams: journalist for the program North-South (Télé-Québec). My first mission: South Africa because Nelson Mandela had just been freed. In the dozen or so documentaries I did, one of them required interviewing Jay Naidoo, the general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU, to understand the role of the trade unions in the liberation of the country. And that is how I found, under the same roof, my dream – international correspondant – and the love of my life. I hence covered the whole Mandela era, from his liberation from prison to the end of his presidency, and beyond. Before the first multiracial elections in 1994, it was very tense in South Africa, and violence had become a loud language. I did two television documentaries on rape (Every 83 seconds) and domestic violence (When Love hurts). I was teaching journalism at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism to people who had only actually done propaganda for the apartheid government. I was making documentaries on the kids living in townships, victims of the terribly crazy ideas of the apartheid regime. I had great fears but I also lived great moments, perhaps the most incredible one of my career being Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as president. To live so close to this great man – he was our neighbour in Cape Town – and to have been such a close witness to his five years in the president’s seat gave me back faith in humanity.
When Nelson Mandela left government in 1999, it was the moment for me to answer the repeated requests from André Bastien, founder of Libre Expression publishing house, to write a book on the historical period. I wrote my first book, Mon Afrique (Conflict of the Heart) a book about the Mandela era (1990-1999) from the apartheid I lived to the birth of democracy I witnessed as a journalist, woman, White, mother of a child in shared custody between two continents, and wife of a minister in Mandela’s government. Notre Afrique (2006) is the clamoured sequel to Mon Afrique, with a wider view on Africa and the place of this terrible and magnificient continent in the world. Eva (2005) is an historical novel on the 1960-1990 period in South Africa and answers the question what was it to live under apartheid? through a forbidden and powerful love story. My other novel is the result of having spent years socialising with the greatest revolutionnaries of South Africa: Encore un pont à traverser, (2010) is a social fable set in the West with South African influence, on social justice and the organisation of a revolution, through forbidden love stories. I also wrote a travel guide on South Africa (Comprendre l’Afrique du Sud) in 2011.
The book Demain, il sera trop tard, mon fils (“Tomorrow will be too late, my son” – 2014) was born from a conversation with my son Kami who, at 21 years old only, asks terribly lucid questions about the state of the planet, and who forces us to reflect.
I continue to live between the two continents. Our children are grown up now ; two live in Africa and one in Québec. My husband has been working in development for the past 15 years and wrote a first book Fighting for Justice (Picador Africa, 2010) and is preparing a second one. I continue to give talks in Québec and the message I deliver is that of Nelson Mandela: “The world is a stage where the gestures of all its people are part of the same scene”."