History: the thorny subject that’s always fair game for ...


History: the thorny subject that’s always fair game for politicians

There is no single truth in it, which is worth remembering when politicos bang on about righting historical wrongs


I don't remember much from history at school, but one thing that stuck in my mind was that the Zulu ruler, King Shaka kaSenzangakhona, apparently used to make his impis dance on patches of thorns to harden their feet in preparation for battle. Haakdoring or enkeldoring, I’m not sure, but it lodged itself in my head, if not my foot. Not much else did, but that’s OK because while the world and its assembled commentators don’t have much to say about the future, there’s no moving on from the past. Increasingly, the present is a repackaged past. Welcome to the great encore.

We’re living in a time of a great reckoning, an accounting for the racism, colonialism, imperialism, sexism and ageism of the past, and sometimes of the present. Glorious histories have become shameful chapters of conquest and plunder. It’s a time of revisionism, complete with turning points and crossroads and sea changes. It’s #metoo and Black Lives Matter.

So if you don’t know your history, it helps to watch the news to catch up on the past...

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