It’s easy to wail over burnt libraries when there’s no-one to ...

Ideas

It’s easy to wail over burnt libraries when there’s no-one to blame

Where was this heartfelt lament when UCT students set 23 works of fine art on fire in the middle of the campus?

Columnist

Oh the rank hypocrisy of the Cape Town liberals, but let me first say this.

Like many lovers of books, a deep sadness came over me on Sunday morning as the mountain fires first fell on a favourite eating place, that restaurant with the best pickled fish and scones, and then made its way onto the grounds of one of Africa’s most distinguished universities. My heart sank as I saw the Jagger Library, more accurately, the Jagger Reading Room, go up in flames.

The reactions from UCT staff and affiliates tugged at the heartstrings. “UCT’s intellectual heart ripped out after Jagger Library burns,” wrote the country’s thought leader in philanthropy, who once raised funds for campus infrastructure including libraries. A UCT academic spoke of “a visceral sense of horror and loss” among staff and that, according to one of her colleagues, “it felt like they had lost a family member”...

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