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To end the mess SA is in, we must understand what caused it


To end the mess SA is in, we must understand what caused it

If you want to comprehend the dynamics that have played out since 1994, spend time with Wahbie Long’s new book


The other day I asked the sales clerk at Exclusive Books to retrieve two books for me. One of my own, Learning Lessons, and one by a brilliant young UCT psychologist, Wahbie Long, called Nation on a Couch: Inside South Africa’s Mind. She first brought my book and with a long face and limp-wrist gave me my work. Less than a minute later the same woman appeared with Prof Long’s book, suddenly looking radiant and excited: “Now THIS book is really selling, hey!” We had a good laugh, but I know why the Long book is making waves.

It was 27 years ago this week (Monday) that Nelson Mandela uttered those memorable words at his inauguration as our first democratic president: “Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another ...” Three “nevers” were not going to be enough. We routinely abuse, humiliate, exploit and oppress each other.

The brutal violence against women and girls is staggering; by one count there were more than 120,000 victims of gender-based violence (GBV) on home turf during the first three months of lockdown. The eighth most violent city in the world is ours. In a corruption perception index, shortly after Madiba’s famous statement, we ranked a respectable 22nd in the world, but have since dropped to 69th; corruption, the president once said, has cost the country close to R1-trillion. Corruption, by way of reminder, is not a victimless crime. It takes vital resources away from the poor. Put bluntly, it oppresses the oppressed...

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