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SA’s most pressing question is one that’s almost never asked. Perhaps, thinking the answer is so obvious, we refrain from asking “what is transformation?” to avoid ridicule and the risk of seeming not only ignorant but actively hostile to post-1994 democratic gains. As a consequence, in boardroom, shebeen, school hall, church, sports club and at dinner parties, “transformation (usually “sorely lacking”, “long overdue” or, at its most shocking, “absent”) enjoys a spectrum of approval from complacent unanimity to fervour. The slightest hesitance is taken as revanchism. Even declared opponents will grudgingly make the case for its necessity. Yet, to ask what “transformation” is is a rational question that every day begs more urgently for an answer. It matters, above all, because in its meaning “transformation” has parted ways with “change”. And where “change” means a material alteration in the daily life of society, “transformation” is too often an impostor, content with the appearance...

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