2010 Reading Highlights: Christopher Merrett

2010-12-01 00:00

IT was a rather thin year, but Nathan Geffen’s Debunking Delusions stands out. He neatly demolishes the quackery of the HIV/Aids denialists, but more importantly highlights interesting links between the old and new South Africa. The work of the Treatment Action Campaign is a noble continuation of the pre­liberation struggle for justice. But the post-liberation government’s way of handling opposition bears some of the hallmarks of the apartheid era. And Geffen’s description of the undermining of the Medicines Control Council by politicians is symptomatic of wider national ills.

Scott Couper’s carefully measured biography Albert Luthuli: Bound by Faith is testimony to first-rate historical research. It provides insight into kholwa society and the overwhelming influence of Christianity on Luthuli’s life and work. With meticulous care, Couper debunks ANC disinformation about Luthuli’s supposed abandonment of a commitment to nonviolence in favour of armed struggle. And he makes short shrift of conspiracy theories about Luthuli’s death.

Our history is under threat from fantasists; refreshingly, Couper employs evidence.

To round off there’s Liz McGregor and Sarah Nuttall’s Load Shedding, a wonderful collection of essays on life in contemporary South Africa. While the contributors unloaded their inner­most thoughts, Eskom was offloading generating capacity.

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