Tag Archives: Race

Book review: Thoughts on the New South Africa, by Neville Alexander

I used to believe that if you did not know history and how our societies came to be as they are, the world must be infuriating and scary. But from observing ease of those afflicted by the contagious South African moveonism, partly owing to the poor education system, partly from memory’s natural degeneracy between generations, partly from the convenience of forgetting, partly from the various ideologically driven projects to induce forgetting and misremembering, I’ve had to reconsider. Those with that knowledge and understanding are a minority amid a multitude of people who start each new day as though the previous had not been. These few are the only sane people in a room of amnestic madmen. As such, I’m now convinced that it’s only for them, these few who understand the past, its effects on today and what must be done to create a better future, that this world full of forgetting is a maddening place.

Neville Alexander’s collection of essays, Thoughts on the New South Africa, published posthumously in February, six months after his death, bristles with annoyance and a heavy undertone of frustration, understandably so, given that he was among the few I’ve described.

Adding to Alexander’s frustration, I glean, is that his thinking was, no, is far ahead of our time—and, compelled by the sense of community and humility that drew him into an active role in the country’s liberation movement, he could not reasonably withdraw into the insular existence that many in his position might find tempting and mollifying. Continue reading

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On how black anger and white obliviousness are used to foreground race in post-apartheid South Africa

My essay on how black anger, white obliviousness and the expedience of politics have foregrounded race in public dialogue in South Africa has just been published on Mampoer Shorts. It’s a 10,000-word “short”, so snazzy book-like cover aside, you should be able to read it in under two hours. It builds on an opinion piece I wrote earlier this year for the Daily Maverick at the height of debacle over Brett Murray’s ‘The Spear’. Read it, give me your thoughts, and if I haven’t died of shame from the self-promotion I’ll be engaging in during the coming weeks, consider me immortal. Also, in that instance, let me know if you’d like to be involved in a follow-on project I’ll be doing along the same theme next year. But for now, here’s an excerpt. The full essay is available on Mampoer for $2.99. Continue reading

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Race in South Africa: Can we move on already?

Race is undoubtedly an uncomfortable topic, and one that begs the question: Can a past of racialism ever be overcome? Is it possible to move on? And by move on, I mean have one’s race become nearly as invisible as eye colour or the shape of one’s nail, whether square or oval. And if it is possible, how long does it take to for this to happen? In South Africa’s case, it has become clear that it definitely takes longer than 16 years. Continue reading

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