I have now completed about a dozen book conversations in mostly packed venues from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and double that number of radio and newspaper interviews in the past two weeks. While my two new books brought people into school halls and book shops, it was very clear in the question and answer periods that fellow citizens were deeply burdened about our country. People looked tired and dismayed, scared and even depressed about what is going on in Mandela’s country. So many came to unburden themselves and to ask urgent questions about now and the future. Should I send my child to a South African university? The final chapter in my book As by Fire paints a dismal picture about the future; the subtitle does not help: The End of The South African University.Many in attendance read that chapter. It says that the forces that destroyed African universities are pulsing through our campuses as well. Underfunding by the government, chronic instability and state interference. We are...

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