General

Reflections on my life on Robben Island

By Professor Saths Cooper Much has been said and written about apartheid political imprisonment as the triumph of the human spirit under extreme conditions, which it most certainly was. Distance in time and place usually lends a weird enchantment to views and memories that we may have experienced. Our natural tendency is to shy away…

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Why capitalism cannot afford to support the human sciences

Ever wondered why capitalism does not (in fact, cannot afford to) tolerate and support the human sciences – in other words, the humanities and social sciences? There is a reason for this. The short answer is that they cultivate critical thinking and practice, which capitalism, in its current attempt to consolidate its global power, naturally…

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Where were the white people on Reconciliation Day?

Yesterday we held our 21st Consciousness Café event of 2016 at the Joburg Theatre’s Penthouse. We chose this space not only for its floor-to-ceiling views of the city, an inspiring backdrop for a Day of Reconciliation dialogue, but also because it has safe parking and a bus stop outside. It’s accessible to pretty much everybody. When…

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‘The Faith of Christopher Hitchens’ and how ‘intellectuals’ miss the point

It is always an excellent time to write a sensational, controversial memoir about a public figure after his death, not before. The person is not there to defend himself. Larry Taunton is an avowed Christian and his book, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens is elegantly written and immensely readable. But, as compelling and compassionate as the book’s argument…

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(Ir)Reconciliation Day: A call for a more sober reading of December 16

Today, South Africa observes Reconciliation Day with what can only be assumed to be a healthy dose of sobriety. 2016, infamous for its never-ending, unsuspecting and often unwanted surprises, has also proven to be a contentious year in the socio-political economy of the country. With unemployment reaching a 13-year high last quarter, a number of…

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When do intimate relationships work?

I raise this question more as a kind of self-reflection than a hard-and-fast recipe of sorts. The latter cannot be supplied by anyone, for the “simple” reason that human beings are very complex creatures. While the interpersonal areas I reflect on below may indeed be important in all intimate relationships (and I do believe that…

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Are South Africans really all capitalists at heart?

The South African news cycle often is awash with nationalist rhetoric from the emerging and vocal opposition, raging against the African National Congress. These quasi-socialists hold out an image of an economically liberated Southern Africa, a picture of Mzansi at peace on the land – their land. The capitalists too have a vision for South…

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#ScienceMustFall in retrospect: Three lessons to help us move on

I remarked once that, “If the curricula shall be Africanised then, one may presume, we’ll have to find an Africanised version of Newtonian mechanics for the engineers, decolonised theorem proofs for mathematicians and the non-racist equivalent of Maxwell’s equations for physicists, among other things”. I said that this would be to take the call for…

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Why South Africa continues to grapple with the L-word

So there I was, propping up a barn in Sweet Auburn, Atlanta. I was in town for a conference about racial justice (or the lack thereof) with my Consciousness Café colleague Keke. Two days before, Donald Trump had been elected president of the US, and the conference was a churned-up sea of angry, bewildered activists….

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Why the ANC continues to flounder and defend the power of patronage

In my previous contribution in this column “The ANC must undergo creative destruction to re-invent and survive”, the theme of my message was that the task of reinventing the ANC and re-positioning its brand cannot succeed without a leadership overhaul. As the latest events have sadly confirmed, the urge to maintain the status quo trumps…

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