Saturday 30 October, 3.30pm until 5.00pm, Café
As host of the FIFA World Cup 2010, South Africa scored a winning goal even if the home team, Bafana Bafana, failed to make the last sixteen. The country showed that where there is the political will, major achievements are possible. Their stadiums were stunning and the pitches first class. The international fans and media were overwhelmed by the warmth and exuberance of their welcome, and pre-tournament paranoia about crime and security proved largely unfounded. For a brief moment sport united the nation; however, as in 1995 after the Rugby World Cup, that feeling of unity may prove to be ephemeral as South Africans look to the future.
South Africa is uncomfortable with the very idea of the future. The ANC constantly invokes Mandela and its history of struggle to maintain its legitimacy and silence its critics - it is even proposing a ‘media appeals tribunal’ to curb ‘defamatory’ news stories. President Zuma’s penchant for wearing tribal costumes and his endorsement of the tribal custom of polygamy is criticised by many, but endows Zuma with the authenticity of an African leader connected to his people at a time when he is fending off charges of corruption or political inadequacy. The ANC youth leader, Julius Malema, in a bid for a power and a share of state handouts, courts popularity by singing old MK rebel songs that seem irrelevant and inflammatory today.
At its birth, democratic South Africa tried to lay its troublesome past to rest through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; an innovative and much applauded institution that was to be imitated in other areas of conflict resolution such as Ireland and Rwanda. It was meant to be cathartic; to allow South Africans to forgive and forget. Yet one could argue that this therapeutic ritual immersed the nation in the past and redefined what it means to be South African. Either South Africans are black victims who deserve pity and have become embroiled in fighting for compensation and restitution instead of a better society, or guilt-ridden whites apologising for their past or fleeing the present. The murder earlier this year of the far-right AWB leader, Eugene Terreblanche by two of his black farmhands raised new fears about whether the past has indeed been buried or whether old enmities are waiting to resurface.
The past has made South Africans what they are, but is it time to move on and make our future? What kind of ideas and leadership could break the impasse and inspire that future?
Listen to session audio:
foreign editor, Monocle Magazine; author, Africa United
journalist; presenter, BBC World Service's Network Africa
|Dr Jennifer Cunningham|
recently retired paediatrician; author, The end of apartheid?
|Trevor Steele Taylor|
film programmer, Grahamstown Film Festival; curator, South African Season, British Film Institute
freelance writer and blogger based in Johannesburg; contributor Artslink and spiked
It's the first African World Cup, and we came here needing to see something, well, African. The images that came easily were all wrong. The stadiums were too shiny, the hotels too continental. An anxiety began to creep in that we weren't getting the real story.Eve Fairbanks, The Atlantic, 9 July 2010
Ahead of the World Cup, South Africa’s politics is in as dismal a state as its national football teamStephen Chan, Prospect, 4 June 2010
Football inspires competition and inflames passions nowhere as strongly as in Africa. Travelling across thirteen countries, from Cairo to the Cap, Steve Bloomfield meets players and fans, politicians and rebel leaders, and discovers the role that football has played in shaping the continent.
Steve Bloomfield, Canongate Books, 20 May 2010
The new Fugard Theatre, which has opened in a Cape Town district destroyed by apartheid, is staging wonderful productions. For Justin Cartwright it's a symbol of South Africa as a place of hope and possibility.Justin Cartwright, Guardian, 3 April 2010
Like the Truth Commission itself, Krog's Country of My Skull gives central prominence to the power of the testimony of the victims, combining the reportage skills of the journalist with the poet's ability to let previously unheard voices emerge with their stories.
Antjie Krog , Vintage, 4 November 1999
BoI 2007 Vox Pop 5
"Only the Battle of Ideas could provide the platform for a discussion about a GCSE Science exam where the atmosphere was so electric. It felt like a battle for the soul of British education."
Philip Walters, chairman, Rising Stars educational publishers