The Guardian’s David Smith kick offs a review of a memoir of life under apartheid with a judicious take on events of the past fortnight:
There was only one news story in South Africa at the end of last month. A painting of President Jacob Zuma’s penis swept the national agenda and ignited pungent debate on the web. Zuma’s supporters called it disgusting, racist and demeaning to African culture; defenders of artistic freedom said Zuma had not earned the nation’s respect. Even after the work had been defaced and removed, the governing African National Congress continued to whip up mass hysteria, “calling on all South Africans to defend the president” by mobilising in support of a court action. Proof of a nation in turmoil? Not really.
This was, in fact, a good week for South Africa. No one died. No artists were jailed. The president’s men were forced to make their argument in court. While much of the debate was base and opportunistic, the affair ultimately spoke more of a vibrant, noisy constitutional democracy than a thought-policed dictatorship.