Grahamstown. Picture: WIKIMEDIA
Grahamstown. Picture: WIKIMEDIA

John Perry describes Grahamstown in the 1970s, when he was a student there, as a “beautiful, tree-lined, well-governed university town” (Grahamstown a Shadow of its Former Self, Thanks to ANC, May 24). It is obvious that he had never ventured east of Albany Road, where the majority of the town’s residents lived (and still live).

There were no trees there, and still aren’t. Makhanda may have water and sanitation problems now; back then, most of the town’s residents didn’t have any running water or sanitation.

No-one can dispute that the administration of modern-day Makhanda is dysfunctional. But so was the administration in the 1970s, except for the privileged few who inhabited the tree-lined avenues of Perry’s recollection.

His description of Makhanda as “derelict” suggests that Perry hasn’t been back there in recent years. Yes, he is right to point out that the town faces enormous challenges, many of them brought upon it by incompetence and malfeasance. But derelict it is not.

And don’t worry: the future of the National Arts Festival is not in doubt.

Robert Brand
Cape Town