In the midst of former president Jacob Zuma’s slow-motion removal from power in February, a memory came to me of a scorching afternoon in the summer of 1984. I was in the back seat of a car, a 14-year-old boy on holiday in Cape Town. In the front were two elderly relatives, chatting away. We turned a corner on a city street to find that we were facing Table Mountain, full on, in all its splendour. My relatives fell silent for a moment and marvelled. "Here’s something they can’t f*** up," one finally said to the other. It was unclear whether "they" were the Afrikaners who then ruled SA or the blacks who would inevitably come to rule it some day. For a certain generation of world-weary Jewish men, others were destined always to run the country, and they were destined, too, to mess it up.It was Zuma who triggered this memory. For my relatives’ racist imaginations probably conjured up just such a black president. What does it mean that a flesh-and-blood black leader has caricatured whit...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.