After playing the lead in Janet Suzman’s courageous 1987 production of Othello, John Kani playfully anticipated the response of white South Africa: “There goes the native causing more trouble and this time he has Shakespeare to do it for him.” The laws banning interracial intimacy had hardly been overturned. However, social mores extracted a heavy cost on those who loved across the colour line. It was not surprising, therefore, that when Othello the Moor passionately kissed Desdemona (Joanna Weinberg), white South Africans would walk out on Shakespeare’s play in a huff.Suzman was of course publicly challenging the state’s obsession with policing racial intimacy. I thought of the passions of the Bard when a newspaper reported this week that the minister of basic education was considering a curriculum review with decolonisation in mind. In response to a question in parliament, she is quoted as saying that “the consideration of the works of Shakespeare is an aspect of the overall liter...

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