In his famed George Macaulay Trevelyan lectures delivered nearly 60 years ago, the renowned Cambridge historian EH Carr reflected on “the great-man theory of history”, subsequently published as What is History? Carr warned against the “cult of the great man” and castigated “the view which places great men outside history and sees them as imposing themselves on history in virtue of their greatness, as (and here he quotes another historian, VG Childe) “jack-in-the-boxes who emerge miraculously from the unknown to interrupt the real continuity of history”. Carr’s words ought to be heeded by those voting on May 8. This is especially the case for those characterising President Cyril Ramaphosa as a “great man”. Admittedly, the ANC leader is no “jack-in-the-box”; but his task is to “interrupt the real continuity of history” — or at least that of the ANC. Voters should think deeply about this. They should know that Ramaphosa is intricately mired in the politics of ANC and its power struggle...

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