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I once interviewed a man in the shade of an ancient avocado tree, which stood alone, like a cenotaph, in an expanse of patchy grass littered with broken bricks and the glittery fragments of shattered bathroom tiles. Nearby was the crumbly vestige of a tarred street that went nowhere, a quietly decomposing relic of error and memory. It was here, the man told me, that he and his childhood mates had played kennetjie, blikkies and bok-bok and, when they were older, kicked a ball around, bouncing it against the neighbour’s back wall until the insufferable thudding prompted a bellowed threat from the other side. Of the neighbour’s wall there was no discernible trace. As for the neighbour himself, who could tell what happened to him? All that remained was the lone avocado tree. And yet, of course, there was — is — so much more. This much was obvious as I watched Rashaad Fataar pace out the lounge, the bedrooms and the garden of the District Six, Cape Town, home in which he grew up and that...

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