South Africa Remains Hostage to Its Past and Has Turned Its Back On the Future


At one point, after the first industrial revolution, and at least until the middle of the 20th century, there was a job called a knocker-upper. In Britain someone would walk around the village every morning, and knock on the windows of homes to wake people up so they could get to work on time. Then at some future point alarm clocks became more reliable and ubiquitous. The alarm clock was a step into the future.

It is difficult, at the best of times, to be optimistic about South Africa's future. A few years ago, Justice Malala wrote that South Africa had begun its decline. At more or less the same time I, too, speculated (on these pages) about what I described as lost hope for the country's future. There has been no shortage of predictions and speculations about the country's future. It is very difficult to disagree with the most negative of statements, forecasts and speculations.

The difficulty is compounded when commentaries or speculations and forecasts of imminent collapse emanate from eternal Afro-pessimists, those people who lost power in 1994, and who harken back to the day when they were in charge. These are the "we-told-you-so" and "take-your-money-and-get-out-while-you-can" crowd. I...

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