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Another fire flared on the mountain behind us in Hout Bay last Friday. Luckily, it died down quickly, partly because much of the bush-covered slope burned the previous weekend. That was nothing, though, compared with the inferno that raged over the mountain on the opposite side of the valley. This is, in a way, the story of modern SA. The Hout Bay vegetation is tinder dry. Helicopters, with water buckets swinging underneath, flew all day to scoop up sea water to fight the flames. Yet the two sides of this valley are as stark, socially, as life was under apartheid: a fact emphasised dramatically by the prospect of homes being burned down. On our side, we spent two nights with packed bags at the front door, ready for an emergency evacuation. But if the wind direction had changed, resulting in our house burning down, we are fully insured and could start again with resources. This is not so for the residents of Imizamo Yethu, the township I can see out of our living-room window, clingin...

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