When Namibia gained its independence in 1990 after 23 years of war, most of the eleven Namibians whose life histories make up this book were in their mid-thirties. To that point their whole adult lives had been lived in the struggle, more than half of them in exile. Few of them owned anything. None held prominent jobs. Most had endured hardship, hunger, sickness and fear, and witnessed terrible cruelty and suffering. All had lost family members or friends. Yet their outlook was triumphant and optimistic and their stories are full of enthusiasm, energy, determination and purpose. When you read their stories you are not surprised that they have since become well known in their chosen fields. Yet when they told these stories most of them were not well known. They just happened to be people we came to know and like in the course of our work (Brown as a journalist and development consultant, Leys as a social science researcher) and whom we asked if they would tell us their stories. They tell a story of a country as a whole during those years, a story of how a whole generation matured in the struggle, becoming skilled, disciplined, cosmopolitan and tough.
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