Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

16 April 2014

South Africa: Jay Naidoo's Van Zyl Slabbert Memorial Lecture - We Are a Nation Against the Ropes

analysis

Photo: Westcapenews
ANC supporters at a rally (file photo).

Two of the University of Stellenbosch's most notorious alumni were, of course, Hendrik Verwoerd and Daniel Francois Malan, the man who dreamt up the word "Apartheid". But the institution has also delivered to this country several visionary democrats and this week, "free agent", Jay Naidoo, paid tribute to one of them, delivering the annual Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert honorary lecture at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study. He also provided some handy geographical tips to the government of the day.

Honorary lectures provide momentary and welcome pauses in the grand and restless churn and mess of everyday politics. Particularly three weeks before a national election when politicians are let loose on the citizenry, dancing, handing out wads of cash, kissing babies, stirring pots of pap, making wild promises and in some cases lying without second thought.

These lectures also offer spaces for reflection and engagement in a disturbingly bleak landscape when it comes to much-needed public debate, particularly at this critical juncture in the history of the ANC and the country's young democracy.

For an hour or so, a prominent and influential figure gets to capture (and hopefully ignite) the attention and imagination of those gathered and...

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