I have recently returned to London after almost three weeks in SA.
I visited the Cape Town Book Fair for the first time and was taken not just by the size of the event but by the amazing diversity of what was on offer.
There were many great stands, but Jacana‘s was so wonderfully innovative in a uniquely South African way.
The three events I did were profoundly different. From a pure arms deal discussion with the courageous Terry Crawford-Browne to a conversation about not just post-Polokwane politics but also the differences between the biographer and the polemicist with Mark Gevisser and a broad-ranging discussion with the always thought-provoking Xolela Mangcu.
I then did my usual gamut of talks to a variety of different community groups, ranging from the Marais Road synagogue, the University of the Third Age in Hermanus and the launch of the Social Justice Coalition in Salt River.
The latter was a spirited meeting of hundreds of people from Claremont to Khayelitsha who wanted to make their voices heard against the recent xenophobic violence and the lack of accountability of our elected politicians and officials which was so graphically illustrated by their insipid response to the crisis. This, together with the undermining of the rule of law on everything from the despicable Malema/Vavi comments, through Travelgate, the Constitutional Court, the Zuma (non) trial, the Selebi situation and, of course, Zimbabwe, has left me more concerned about the state of the South African polity than at any time since the defeat of apartheid. The ululating crowd in Salt River gave a sense of hope amidst the gloom with their calls for both a global humanity and a more active, inclusive local community politics.
On Saturday I am off to Israel and the occupied territories as part of a South African human rights delegation to lend support to a coalition of Israeli/Palestinian organisations seeking a peaceful resolution to the occupation that has wrought so much suffering for so long. Our intention is also to try and initiate a more rational public discussion of these issues in SA.
Oh, and amidst all this I have agreed to do a book on the global arms industry and how it undermines accountable democracy for Hamish Hamilton/Penguin internationally and Jonathan Ball Publishers in SA. But before that I am working on the second edition of After the Party which will also be published in the UK and the US by Verso.