Milling around outside the Cape presidential residence, then called Groote Schuur, awaiting the outcome of the first official meeting between the ANC and government in May 1990, I remember overhearing a conversation between a young activist fresh from the ranks of the Mass Democratic Movement and a curious foreign correspondent.

The young woman was part of the ANC’s security detail and the journalist was interested to know what motivated her. “Politics,” she said, “makes the world go round.” It was obvious she saw a role for herself in the next portentous rotation...

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