Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
23 September 2011

On Heritage Day

For some strange reason or another Heritage Day (which we celebrate tomorrow) has turned into national braai day. Maybe it is because South Africans often do not remember the same past and find it difficult to imagine a shared heritage. Some sing that song while others dream of life in England (or, these days, Perth).

Maybe one day, when more white South Africans become capable of imagining the lives and histories of their fellow South Africans who happen not to be white, we will be able to begin to imagine a shared heritage. But this will only happen when more white South Africans realise that their assumption that the world they inhabit is the only legitimate world, that the world they take for granted is the norm to which others must adopt, and that their views and culture are normative and natural, are quite problematic.

In any case, I though the cartoon by Jeremy Nel in The New Age today was quite funny. Happy Heritage Day.

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