Tag Archives: history

Losing in straight sets to the truth about Mandela

Just having tea this morning in Illinois, US, checking out the early rounds at Wimbledon on ESPN, one of the American all-day sports TV channels. Turns out it is 40 years since a black man won Wimbledon for the first and so far the only time — Arthur Ashe in 1975. Yay Arthur. Three of…

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South Africa reboot?

In the course of all the hype around “Rhodes must fall”, I started wondering about the logic underpinning the direction in which it has been developing, which seems to indicate that — as some commentators have indicated — nothing less than South Africa “falling” would satisfy those driving the process of destroying all vestiges of…

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Public historians, this is your moment!

In the past few weeks, statues of male historic figures in public places in South Africa have been splashed with poo and paint of all hues. It has become a veritable underground movement. Cecil Rhodes’ statue has been removed from the University of Cape Town, but around the country, George V, Louis Botha, General Fick,…

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I’m sick of statues

I don’t want to tap into the anger, the misunderstanding and the adolescent reasoning anymore. I don’t want to be caught up in the wildfire of people who are wilfully ignorant about our past, and I don’t want to jump on some bandwagon either. 1. This is not about a statue This isn’t just about…

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Poo-pooing the Rhodes historical narrative

In two years, Cape Town has experienced two rather rude awakenings in the form of “poo protests” in normally sanitised areas meant to represent the best of the Western Cape’s development. The first protest, organised by the disenfranchised Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement, was meant to highlight the deplorable conditions of toilets in informal settlements and…

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The Apple Watch, history and creativity

It’s a very good thing that TIME magazine’s tech writer, Lev Grossman, is an intelligent guy, even when he teams up with others, such as Matt Vella, in the writing of an article called “Wearing the Internet”, on Apple’s newly introduced Apple Watch (TIME, September 22 2014, pp. 28-33). Anyone less intelligent is likely merely…

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The untold history lesson…

I have spent a good two hours writing this exam paper and am relieved to be finally constructing a good response, with just over an hour to go before “pens down”. No later than my relief came, the intercom rings, and with that my answer vanishes. “The school is requested to please stop writing, stand…

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Lindfield House – the place to pause

The beauty of some of the genuine treasures of life, is that they are hidden. They have managed to live out their entire existence quietly, unself-consciously and often quite obscurely, away from the bright lights and polished packaging of the modern media. So rare are they, that we tend to assume they aren’t there. But…

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What are ‘(post)apartheid conditions’?

This may seem like a straightforward question, requiring – and allowing – straightforward answers. Nothing of the sort, it turns out, and if one had any such illusions, the new book, (Post)apartheid Conditions – Psychoanalysis and Social Formation (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013) by psychoanalytical theorist Derek Hook, rapidly disabuses one of them. Hook, of…

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Voting is not as simple as it is made out to be

So, I have registered to vote in South Africa for the first time. Who, then, shall I vote for? Sometimes the simplest questions are unbearably difficult to answer. The easy part is, of course, entering the polling booth, a domain situated behind a veil of secrecy, and enact perhaps the most atomistic ritual in liberal…

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