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Gardening, religion and the magic of sex

I shove my filthy hands into the soil and claw out roots and weeds, savouring the mess. A waft of mulch, half-dead weeds, decomposed worms and God knows what sweetens the air. Soon this muddle will be in order: scooped out flowerbeds surrounded by clipped squares of lawn which I will lay down on this…

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Wanted: Fathers who can put little boys together

Yehoshua Kurland tells an anecdotal story about a lonely boy who waited eagerly for his father to return from work so he could play ball with him. But dad would arrive late, tired and often with more work to do on his laptop. The boy would persist and pester his father. In frustration one day,…

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The pointless hypocrisy of pretending to be homeless

The eThekwini Municipality recently offered “an opportunity of a lifetime” for residents to sleep on the streets – for a night. Along with I-Care, a non-profit helping homeless kids, the purpose was to give people a taste of the hardships experienced by being homeless. “Participants will spend one evening with homeless people of the city…

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Explaining the DA’s shadow cabinet reshuffle

Last week, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen announced small changes to the DA’s shadow cabinet. Most notably senior DA MP, and Wilmot James’ unsuccessful leadership campaign manager, David Maynier, was moved from defence to finance; while newcomer, Michael Cardo, was moved to economic development. Gareth van Onselen, a fierce critic of incumbent DA leader Mmusi…

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You say I’m not African – but that’s where I’m from?

… And my parents were also born and raised in South Africa? Those were the questions running through my mind during an encounter with a senior member of the English Department, Julia*, at a university here in Auckland where I was studying in 2014. We were pleasantly discussing possible PhD courses I could look at…

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Polarised debate on Charleston hate crime, gun control leads nowhere

By now the story has reverberated around the world, that on the evening of June 17 a 21-year-old white man, Dylann Storm Roof, entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (the oldest black church in the South) in Charleston, South Carolina, and, about an hour later, shot and killed nine of the 12 worshipers gathered there…

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Florence, Siena and the ‘space of flows’

We are in Florence for a conference, in what is to my mind the most enchanting part of Italy, namely Tuscany. Because I have always been interested in art and architecture, and in principle we don’t take taxis, but walk everywhere we go, we have already seen the most beautiful buildings and urban landscapes, framed…

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Con Air: African Escape

We open on SA President Jacob Zuma seeing off Sudan President Omar al-Bashir at Air Force Base Waterkloof. They kiss, but in a friendly way. Al Bashir lifts his robe, boards a plane and takes off. Murder accused Christopher Panayiotou and Zwelethu Mthethwa run onto the tarmac. PANAYIOTOU: What about us? ZUMA: No, not you….

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South Africa and other orphaning nations (Jani Allan Part II)

Even now, a quarter of a century later, here in Auckland, New Zealand, I have mentioned to other South Africans Jani Allan’s newly released memoir Jani Confidential and they respond, “so what was she doing with that idiot ET (Eugene Terre’Blanche)?” “For God’s sake,” I reply, “give the woman a break”. As Jani Allan says…

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What is a ‘rhizome’ in Deleuze and Guattari’s thinking?

People who do a lot of gardening probably know what a “rhizome” is in botanical terms. It is a kind of plant (including the prolific “wandering Jew”) that pops out of the ground over an expanding area, giving the impression that many separate plants are emerging in close proximity to one another, but in fact…

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