This article originally appeared on the frontpage of South Africa Now, a six-pagesupplement to the Washington Postproduced on behalf of Brand South Africa.(Click to enlarge.)South African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured.The now-iconic and shocking early August Time magazine cover, featuring the mutilated face of 18-year-old Afghani girl Aisha, was brought to the world through Bieber’s lens. The photographer explains on the Time website that she wanted the portrait to show that Aisha was still beautiful, even though her nose and ears had been cut off at the Taliban’s behest.Bieber does something similar in the photographs in Soweto, her latest book. These are a compassionate but honest look at South Africa’s largest township, bringing out the subtle beauty of everyday life – children in the public swimming pool, a wedding entourage, a motorcycle club, a mother-and-daughter domestic scene powerfully emblematic of the old and new South Africa.These are not the first images that spring to mind when one thinks of Soweto. Yes, it is the birthplace of struggle heroes, the crucible of the 1976 students’ uprising and the scene of late 1980s anti-apartheid violence, but it is also a hub of diversity, culture, music and business, a place where people live normal lives.In her foreword Bieber talks of Sowetans’ friendliness, and her feeling of complete safety working there during the three-month project. But it made her sad, she says, that residents assumed she was a foreigner as the only whites who visit are tourists.Soweto by Jodi Bieber is published by Jacana with the support of the Goethe Institut.Download South Africa Now in PDF format (2.2 MB), or read selected articles online:Powering towards a green economySouth Africa plans to build a massive $21.8-billion, 5 000 MW solar park in its semi-desert Northern Cape province as part of an aggressive push to grow its highly industrialised economy without increasing its carbon footprint.The everyday beauty of SowetoSouth African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured. On the cover of Time magazine she made a mutilated Afghani girl look beautiful, and in her latest book Soweto she makes everyday township life shine.Launchpad to a billion consumersBy offering to acquire Massmart for some $4.2-billion, Wal-Mart has joined the parade of global companies looking to South Africa as a springboard into what is increasingly seen as the world’s last great investment frontier.A trek to the start of timeIt will probe the edges of our universe. It will be a virtual time machine, helping scientists explore the origins of galaxies. It’s the Square Kilometre Array, and South Africans are at the heart of its development.Brewing up a global brandMiller Lite. Tastes great. Less filling. And brought to you by world-beating South African company SABMiller.Looking south and east for growthAs the shift in global economic power gains momentum, South Africa’s trade is moving eastwards and southwards in a pattern that both reflects the worldwide trend and helps drive it, writes John Battersby.More than just a celluloid MandelaThere is a special bond between Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and the man he played in the Clint Eastwood movie Invictus, South African statesman Nelson Mandela.Africa in the new world orderKgalema Motlanthe, South Africa’s deputy president, looks at how African economies’ resilient performance during the global financial crisis points to the continent’s new place in a changing world.Mining history for new solutionsMark Cutifani, CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company, examines why South Africa’s past is key to successfully doing business here in the future.Turning up the media volumeSince 1990, South Africa has been a noisy place. After decades of apartheid censorship, the lifting of restrictions on the media led to a cacophony of debate. For the first time in centuries, everyone could be heard, and it was sometimes deafening, writes Anton Harber.A joule of an energy-efficient carSouth Africa, which builds BMWs and Mercedes Benzes for the US market, is in the thick of the race to deliver a truly practical – and stylish – electric car. Meet the Joule.South Africa: Time to believeThe forgiving philosophy of “ubuntu” helps explain how South Africa managed to transcend its turbulent apartheid past and create a unified democracy, writes Simon Barber.Finding sound real estate investmentSouth Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and new middle class are fuelling demand for affordable homes. For private equity fund International Housing Solutions, that means opportunity.My normal, crazy, mixed-up countrySouth African hit movie White Wedding is now showing in the US to rave reviews. Jann Turner, who directed and jointly wrote and produced the film, writes about the place that inspired it – South Africa.Bring on the braaiAll South Africans love it – including Nobel peace prize-winning Desmond Tutu – and its rich, smoky smell floats over the country every Sunday. Celebrate the braai with our great recipe for making boerewors, traditional South African farmer’s sausage.