What do we believe?

2008-06-09 00:00

South Africa has ascended once more to a hideous eminence in the world’s media. Causes and explanations proliferate. Nationalism, citizenship, economics, ethnicity are debated. Matters of African unity and our specifically African patrimony are discussed. Blame multiplies: third forces, poverty, poor service delivery and porous borders are implicated.

This combination of law enforcement and restatement of principle dramatises the tricky intersection of state power and value. This tension informs the president’s belated comments on the problem in his Africa Day speech: “Th[is] violence and criminality stands against everything we have sought to do to build a humane and caring society based on the values of ubuntu.” He continued, “The actions of these few individuals do not reflect the values of our society.”

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