• Adam Habib, SOAS and the speech police

    BACK in the mid-1980s, when the anti-apartheid struggle was at a height, a group of Pietermaritzburg youngsters set up a group called Forward Youth. It had a socialist agenda and lived up to it by […]

  • Apartheid’s not dead yet

    WHEN still head of the library on the local university campus, I was required by the institution’s equity commissar to classify all my colleagues (over 50 of them) by race. As a lifelong advocate of […]

  • The absent nation

    IT’S a regular feature of a South African February: SONA, the State of the Nation address. This year’s Covid-19-flavoured edition was an improvement in some ways:  no corpulent people dressed in red boiler suits disrupting […]

  • Zuma, Sobukwe and the perversion of South African history

    FOR many years Jacob Zuma, faced by allegations of corruption around the arms deal of the late 1990s and his later association with the Gupta family, demanded his day in court. Yet this was a […]

  • Brexit: it’s only just begun

    PREDICTABLY an eleventh-hour trade deal was reached to seal the Brexit process triggered by the 2016 referendum in which a majority of self-pitying, self-harming British voters turned their backs on the most constructive development in […]

  • Signs of civil war in South Africa?

    IN the early hours of a winter’s morning, when the air is cold and still, you can hear the traffic from the N3, the Johannesburg to Durban highway, from our house; mainly trucks changing gear […]

  • A setback for right wing populism?

    AT last there was some good news for those of us who regard ourselves as social and liberal democrats. The decisive defeat of Donald Trump is a signal to right-wing populists the world over that […]

  • South Africa: a country of parallel worlds

    SOUTH Africa’s political pundits are forecasting major problems ahead for the African National Congress. Having run the country’s state institutions and its economy into the ground, it is currently mismanaging the Covid-19 epidemic. A string […]

  • Landfill inferno and municipal meltdown

    DAWN on Tuesday 21 July on the old Hesketh motor racing circuit south of Pietermaritzburg. Down below in the river valley was an intense fire that looked like the very definition of Hades. Above it […]

  • Looking back at a South African university

    IN the 1980s, as a relatively young staff member on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of Natal, I had occasional encounters with the university vice-principal, Deneys Schreiner. I’ve recently read for pleasure and review […]