Author Joel Pollak will speak and sign his new book “Rhoda, a Biography ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order!’” on Thursday, February 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Collection Antiques and Books, at 15326 Antioch.
When Village Books on Swarthmore was in existence, it frequently had authors visit the store. This is a tradition that local bookstore owner Jeff Ridgway is rekindling with Pollak. The community is invited to this free event.
Pollak is a South African-born writer and attorney, who has penned the biography of Rhoda Kadalie, one of the most influential voices in South Africa. She wrote popular columns in the South African press and was among the first to warn about the corruption and mismanagement of the ruling African National Congress.
Born in 1953, Rhoda’s family was forcibly removed from a “white” area in the suburb of Mowbray. Undaunted, she graduated from the University of the Western Cape and received a master’s degree from the International Institute for Social Studies at The Hague, Netherlands.
She served in Nelson Mandela’s administration on the South African Human Rights Commission before resigning to start Impumelelo, an organization that supported replicating successful private-public partnerships for social development.
Rhoda was one of the few pro-Israeli voices in South Africa. She followed U.S. politics and predicted Donald Trump’s victory.
She moved to the United States in 2018 to be closer to her family and died of cancer in April 2022. Her daughter, Julia Pollak (nee Bertelsmann), is married to the author of the new biography.
The story of “Comrade Kadalie” is about this remarkable woman’s life through the dramatic changes in South Africa during and after apartheid. The book, using primary sources, explores Rhoda’s commitment to debate and diversity.
The author, who received his undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1999, returned to South Africa as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar, and then stayed to work as a freelance journalist. Pollak served as a speechwriter to the Opposition Leader in the South African Parliament from 2002-2006. Pollak returned to the U.S. and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2009.
He is the author of more than a dozen books, including “How Trump Won” and “Red November.”