Sharp Thoughts

  • Empty words and dangerous rhetoric

    TRANSFORMATION has been without question one of South Africa’s most overworked words in the media and public discourse since national liberation. Like every word it has a precise dictionary definition, yet it is a frequent […]

  • Turning their backs on history: a right wing coup in Britain?

    IT is hard from the events of the last five months to avoid the conclusion that without a major change of direction, the United Kingdom is headed for political disintegration and economic decline. Although the […]

  • Burning books: endgame for South African universities?

    FLASHBACK twenty-seven years to September 1989: police had fired on demonstrators on the Durban campus of the University of Natal ahead of the (final) whites-only general election. Pietermaritzburg staff and students decided to march on […]

  • Tale of a tapeworm

    PRIME Minister Hendrik Verwoerd died in the chamber of the House of Assembly from four stab wounds to the neck and chest. His assailant was beaten up by National Party members of parliament while P.W. […]

  • Richard Turner and the power of reason

    TODAY, 38 years ago, Rick Turner was murdered in Bellair, Durban at the age of 36. His killer has never been identified, but it was without doubt someone (possibly a member of the right-wing Scorpio […]

  • Cameras, street names and a police state: Maputo, December 2015

    IT was a blue-light convoy the like of which we had not seen before, though KwaZulu-Natal has a deserved reputation for them. First, there was a personnel-carrier with six soldiers in body armour and heavy […]

  • Freedom of expression on a knife edge

    SOUTH African cartoonists are fond of portraying the national economy perched on the edge of a cliff. It’s an appropriate image, but there are other cliffs around, one of them involving our constitutional right to […]

  • Letter writing and biography

    BIOGRAPHY is arguably the most challenging of literary forms. Apart from the usual demands of good writing, it requires the ability to do justice to both subject and truth with high potential to upset some, […]

  • Politics and legalism

    THOUSANDS of words have been written and spoken about the growing crisis of the South African state. Its most high-profile events so far this year have been the influence of the Gupta family, the Constitutional […]

  • Degrees of democracy

    REFERENDA generally have a good press, evoking images of thoroughly democratic Swiss cantons and busily involved, civic-minded citizens. But the conduct of, and reaction of the British public to, the referendum on European Union membership […]