The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
By Alec Hogg
If you want to understand a nation, read its history. And best avoid jingoistic propaganda of the victors. Focus, rather, on the stories of people who lived through it. Well written biographies open windows traditional history treatises never will.
Having grown up in the Battlefields of KZN, an interest in old South African history was embedded in me early on. But lately, in an effort to better understand the present, I’ve switched, recently devouring excellent biographies on unsung SA hero Bram Fischer and the superb Anthony Butler book about Cyril Ramaphosa.
My latest conquest is former Methodist bishop Peter Storey’s autobiography called I Beg To Differ, a tour de force on the life and times of a man who devoted his life to fighting injustice. It’s a lengthy treatise offering much to absorb. But one sentence stays with me, perhaps because it explains why political opportunists find the young democracy’s ground so fertile.
“We can learn to forgive many of the terrible things apartheid did to our people,” Storey quotes SA’s recently installed president as having once told him, “but the worst by far was Bantu Education. That we cannot forgive.” Gets right to core of SA’s challenge, doesn’t it?
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.