In his book, World Order, Henry Kissinger is correct to assert that every historical epoch has its own leitmotif, a central organising theme that enables people living in a particular age to make sense of their reality. From 1994 to 2005, hope was our leitmotif. From 2007, we have been living through a period of disorder. Before we expose the character of this disorder we must state the obvious: that SA was not born in 1994. There had been organising themes back into antiquity. Before the arrival of Europeans, hunter-gathering was the way of life in most of southern Africa. If you go back thousands of years, you will pass through proud ancient African civilisations — of Maphungubwe, of Great Zimbabwe, and so on. But this is too distant a past. From early European settlement at the Cape of Good Hope to the end of the 18th century, invasion was the leitmotif. This was a period when settlers were driven by hunger for land and livestock, resulting in frontier wars. Among Africans, the r...

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