America is not a democracy

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The United States prides itself as the greatest experiment in democracy on the face of the Earth. It does have a few things to brag about: Its constitution is one of the finest examples of enlightenment thinking, rich with ideals of the sovereignty of the individual over institutions, and replete with checks against power. And its attendant values have produced the richest and most productive nation in history, one that sits among those countries with the cheapest interest rates, highest standards of living and wealthiest indigents in the world. Continue reading

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South Africa is the greatest country on Earth

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In light of the recent racist remark uttered by the president of the United States, I think we deserve to grab a leaf from that country’s book of braggadocio and rah-rah, reverse our humble postures and declare ourselves the greatest country on the face of the planet. To help our indulgence, here are a few, rather random reasons why an African country such as ours is not a s***hole and does not need to make itself great again.  Continue reading

In the age of ‘alternative facts,’ let’s reflect on some fact-facts

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‘Post-truth era,’ ‘alternative facts,’ ‘misrepresentations.’ These are all colourful synonyms of what the unpolitical types call lies. At a time when truth has been so thoroughly molested, long-respected institutions questioned, the old ways of doing business suffering an ever-more critical gaze, it’s perhaps apt to exhale in relief as we reflect on some undeniable certainties. There really are some ideas that can’t be shaken. If they are, that would require a shift in our thinking so seismic it would be intolerable in the absence of a better, alternative idea. Continue reading

A love affair with America, threatened but thriving

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Me listening to US diplomat Nick von Mertens at the Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library in Pretoria in May 2016

I’ve always wanted to be in the United States—if not live in it, then visit it. But during the rise of Donald Trump and the spate of reported mass shootings and killings of unarmed black men, I’m second-guessing that dream. Continue reading