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The Most Dangerous Man in South Africa

Is a 19th century German philosopher.

gordhan zuma

About a week ago, I wrote a post entitled “The ANC Will Die”. Some people told me this was a ridiculous notion. I think JZ’s proving those critics wrong today.

This week we have seen Number 1’s response to losing three major metros to the DA. He has taken charge of state owned enterprises, and is building a narrative to get rid of Pravin Gordhan, perhaps the most respected ANC leader right now internationally.

In short, he is looting our democracy.

In most normal political parties, the party structures would now just hold a vote of no confidence and move on with governing instead of these power games (which hurt the poor most of all).

But this is the problem with the ANC. The ANC is not a political party. And that’s why I am convinced they have no future. Continue reading

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.” GK Chesterton
hero with a 1000 faces

I have been overwhelmed by the response to yesterday’s post. I don’t think we realise how we all go through the same experiences and fight the same battles.

I think that’s the reason we like those novels and films concerning survivors of shipwrecks and the like. When the survivors emerge on the beach, they realise they now have a bond, they owe each other a loyalty. In the words of Jack Shepherd, the main character of ‘Lost’ (the chief inspiration for which was Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”), either they live together or they will die alone.

This resonates with us because in fact we are, in our real lives, survivors of a cosmic shipwreck. We know, deep in our bones, that something has gone wrong with this world. We all fight a war. And so we have a certain loyalty to each other: to be sympathetic, to tell our stories, to have patience.

Getting so many responses this morning to my previous post reminded me of some of the reading I have been doing to prepare for a series of lessons I am about to give to my high school students. Continue reading

It Ain’t Over till It’s Over

South Africans aren’t done yet.

Wayde van Niekerk

Four years ago, I wrote the piece below for the Mercury, a daily newspaper in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

It was written in the afterglow of Chad le Clos’s defeat of Michael Phelps to win his first Olympic gold, and Ernie Els’s stirring come-from-behind victory in golf’s British Open.

Re-reading this, after the inspirational performances of the likes of Wayde van Niekerk, Caster Semenya, Sunette Viljoen, Luvo Manyonga, and Cameron van der Burgh at the Rio Olympics, the note it sounds still rings true.

Beneath all the problems of South Africa, the mismanagement of state bodies (including the shambolic Athletics South Africa among others), and the corruption, our country is not down and out. We keep picking ourselves up off the canvas.

The recent election results show people still want to fight for their country. Olympic sport is just sport, yes, but the love for country it shows is real and echoes beyond the arena.

That echo is a reminder that beyond the headlines and the politics, the dream is still alive. Continue reading

Why I Love the Stumbling Boks

Struggling to win is glorious.

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There is a lot of pessimism about the rugby Springboks at the moment – not all of it unfounded.

No longer can we bash the likes of Ireland and Argentina over. We have to struggle for every win. The Bulls template no longer works. It is all about skill in getting out of your half and then holding onto the ball on attack with offloading and quick recycling.

And that’s hard for our players, raised on a diet of schoolboy koppestamp on the platteland. For decades we believed our ultra-competitive schoolboy game was our biggest asset. Now it is a liability, because all our young players learn how to play ultra-conservative rugby without much freedom to express themselves and take risks. Continue reading

The ANC Will Die

The only question is when.

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Liberation movements do not generally survive. This will also be true of the ANC.

I recently read Albert Luthuli’s autobiography, Let My People Go, which detailed this moral titan’s involvement in the struggle.

Intriguingly, Luthuli did not believe the ANC would one day govern South Africa. He was of the opinion that the ANC would have to form smaller political parties out of the various ideological factions which were working together under their auspices.

He constantly refers to the ANC as ‘Congress’, as though it were a parliament for the struggle rather than a government-in-waiting. Continue reading

Forget Politics

If South Africa is to have any hope in the future, we are going to need a lot more political apathy.

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“It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life.

“A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.”

So wrote CS Lewis in his classic, ‘Mere Christianity’.

For so many people, politics has become a kind of tribalism. A way of finding your identity. Continue reading

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