South Africa: The President's Edifice Complex - Dreams of a Wakanda On the Highveld?

analysis

The startling image of an entirely new, hi-tech city in the president's SONA speech piqued this author's attention -- and an exploration of the ideas behind such a dream.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round;

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

-- From Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

While many in Cyril Ramaphosa's audience both inside South Africa and beyond were looking and listening to his SONA speech on 20 June 2019 for the details of his economic revival plans and how he was going to deal with the country's costly, endemic corruption, my attention was captured by another point. That was the president's broad vision of a futuristic city arising some place far distant from the country's current cities, with new high-speed rail networks, linking urban areas throughout the land.

Or, as the president said in his speech:

"We want a South Africa that...

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