About ten years ago our philosophy professor prescribed his newly published book for our course on multiculturalism. The term assignment was to study it and write a critical analysis.
Instead of focussing on his theories and arguments about why multiculturalism has worked wonderfully in South Africa – this was only the middle nineties – I decided to take a different tack.
This well known South African philosopher had dedicated his book to the memory of his niece. She had been killed shortly before or during the writing of his book (if I remember correctly). In any case, the book started off with a beautifully moving inscription to this young girl whom the family obviously loved dearly. In class we were told by our professor that he was partly inspired by her and therefore dedicated this book on South Africa’s democratic success to the memory of his niece.
The main arguments put forth in the book was that multiculturalism was a roaring success, especially as witnessed in South Africa. After more than a decade my memory is a bit rusty, but what I remember from his classes as well was that South Africa is the quintessential example of how different cultures can live together harmoniously.
If this were true, why was his book on its success dedicated to his dead niece? She was murdered. Surely a book celebrating South Africa’s success should have an inscription to living people?
This post was partly inspired by an old Mail&Guardian article.