The Man South Africa Forgot


Josia Thugwane overcame a cruel birthright of illiteracy, apartheid and the world's greatest distance runners nearly 20 years ago. But he couldn't overcome the neglect of a country that needs his inspiration now.

Mike Wise Special reporting by Michael Mandt

Photography by Andrew Cutraro


RONKHORSTSPRUIT, Gauteng Province, South Africa -- The picture in an aging, tan-brick farmhouse at the end of a long, dusty road on the savannah distills the essence of a national hero. In it, the man raises his arms, toward the heavens, his index finger and thumb appearing to make the victory sign. It is 1996. He is standing in the middle