If talking could solve SA’s problems, Tito Mboweni, a garrulous raconteur if ever there was one, would surely have fixed everything long ago. He has already been holding court for two of what turns out to be an eight-hour encounter over a hearty breakfast, a magnificent lunch and copious quantities of alcohol, when he comes to a — or rather the — decisive moment of his life. As a young man in 1980, as the anti-apartheid struggle was gathering steam, he broke off his university studies, crossed into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho and told the first exiled African National Congress official he clapped eyes on that he wanted to take up arms against the regime. It was not to be. “You guys are so angry and militant, you’re going to cause havoc,” he recalls being told, delivering his anecdote with a comic’s timing. “You are not getting any arms. You are not ready to fight. You are raaaaw,” he says, disintegrating into laughter. Instead of war, the 21-year-old studied economics, ending up...

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