We enter 2017 as a nation in trouble: from submerged rage, from politesse that hid raw racism, from complacency, from unfulfilled dreams. Last year was not pretty. But is this atmosphere of pessimism, hand-wringing, finger-pointing and lamenting justified? I don’t think so. And I hope this year heralds the beginning of a correction. The South African project is a work in progress. Indeed, no nation has perfected this kind of creature: a diverse, open and democratic society. The US may come to mind as a prosperous melting pot built by immigrants, but even today it still matters whether you landed on those shores on the Mayflower or in chains. As outgoing President Barack Obama likes to point out, the American ideal has yet to be perfected. There is a gap between ideal and reality that each generation must grapple with. The South African project was, is and always will be vulnerable to attack. In the early 1990s there was no shortage of critics who predicted how "black rule" would sur...

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