With the country mired in bitter and acrimonious political debate that achieves little other than to create despondency, the sentiment is often expressed by well-meaning whites: “Can’t we all just leave our stuff at the door, sit down and find a new way forward?”

No, unfortunately we can’t. That is because history matters, and the past matters, and the bearing of the past on today has not been fully confronted. It is as simple and as complicated as that. At the heart of SA’s past is the violent dispossession of black people. This puts land, access to land and all its contingent consequences — such as access to intergenerational wealth and the ability to set up and have a home of your own — at the heart of the real politics of SA. Without a resolution here, there can be no justice and therefore no resolution of the SA problem...

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