Monthly Archives: September 2023

Editing history to escape the truth

A new word, “retcon”, has entered the lexicon, shorthand for “retroactive continuity”. American journalist Lance Morrow explained this week it’s a “literary device in which form and content of a previously established narrative is changed. Retcon retrofits the past plot to suit present purposes.” Retcon is a device for novels (such as when history is [...]

Prince Buthelezi’s death has triggered some hypocrisy, amnesia and contradiction

The funeral on Saturday of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in Ulundi, in the heart of rural Zululand, showed that the decrepit and failing state can still muster its pomp and finery and 21 guns to lay to rest one of the most consequential figures in modern South African history. Buthelezi, traditional prime minister to the Zulu [...]

Business leaders will have to fill the governance vacuum

Overlooking Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden in Cape Town beside a cedar tree is the grave of its visionary founder, Harold Pearson. His epitaph, with a bow to Sir Christopher Wren, reads, “If ye seek his monument look around you.’’ Pearson, who died at just 46 in 1916, did not live to see how, more than [...]

Maladministration and infrastructural neglect at the core of Joburg fire tragedy

The weekly columns of the late newspaper editor, Ken Owen, were described by author Mark Gevisser as “bilious and brilliant”. As a frequent target of the lacerating views of Owen, I felt the lash of the former while acknowledging the latter as well. In Business Day on April 23 1990, Owen’s weekly bucket of national [...]

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