The immediacy of events

The immediacy of events

Letters have not been much on my mind for the last couple of weeks, displaced by the immediacy of events. These have involved the death of a friend, then where I live in Edinburgh being flooded and wrecked along with eight other flats in the apartment block, then a motoring accident. My mind, and especially regarding the friend, my feelings, have been immersed in these matters. In different ways these each developed a somewhat relentless structure or pattern as time passed – certain things just happened and other things needed to be done at particular points as a consequence, and there was no putting them off because not subject to my or anyone else’s control. The cumulative effect left little space for thinking about anything outside these events,. But in the midst of death and flood and damaged cars we are still immersed in life, and something did percolate through, registering as a kind of background.

In South Africa, enquiries and investigations about state capture, the topic of last week‘s blog, have continued. And rather than a letter about this, another book came through my letterbox. This focuses on Port Elizabeth, or rather the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, in the Eastern Cape. Crispian Olver was appointed by the minister then responsible, Pravin Gordhan, to head a team to investigate and end municipal corruption there. His book about this and the intractable problems he found and was defeated by appeared last year. How To Steal a City: The Battle For Nelson Mandela Bay (2017, Jonathan Ball Publishers). This is well written but makes for really depressing reading. The bottom line is, he failed because the problem really is intractable, with the practices involved having become ordinary administrative and business life.

Last updated:  26 October 2018


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