Apartheid was always going to take longer to die in SA’s small towns than in the big cities. In the early magical years of Nelson Mandela’s presidency, every few months I would drive an hour-and-a-half southwest of Johannesburg to a farming dorp called Koppies to chronicle the dismantling of white rule.

For the first year or so of the “new” SA, change was in the air. A fledgling black middle class moved from the satellite township into town. I saw the election of the first black mayor. But reform slowed and the can-do spirit curdled. It would be wrong to say there was no progress, but fundamentally the two communities remained divided — by economics, history and race.

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