Even if our country wasn’t marking 30 years of democracy in April or going to the polls for a national election in May, South Africans would be doing lots of soul-searching in 2024. It feels like we’ve been searching for a couple of decades. Where did things go wrong? Are they really that bad? (Answer: yes, they are — but then again, no, not as bad as all that.)

Maybe “things as they are” is about the best we could have hoped for, considering where SA was in, say, 1984. Could anyone have confidently predicted then that the apartheid juggernaut would grind to a halt within 10 years? It is salutary to be reminded that we are living now in the future that was imagined, longed for, fought for — though, obviously, it is not the future that could have been...

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