Different perspectives to the same question – can South Africa overcome its current difficulties and prosper?

Upheaval by Jared Diamond


Diamond identifies a dozen factors that makes it more or less likely that an individual will succeed in resolving a personal crisis. He then suggests these factors as possible influences on outcomes of national crises.

One of these struck a chord. Individuals develop “ego strength’’ which he compares to ‘’national identity’’. It means the features of language, culture, and history that make a nation unique among the world’s nations, that contribute to national pride and that a nation’s citizens view themselves as sharing. Does South Africa exhibit national identity?


The Asian Aspiration by Mills, Obasanjo, Desalegn, van der Merwe


In 1968 a team from Singapore travelled to Kenya to learn their lessons since Kenya was a more developed country than they were. Five decades later and the situation is switched around. The authors focus on ten ‘’growth stories’’ from Asia and their key lessons for Africa. They ask what Lee Kuan Yew, the iconic turnaround politician from Singapore would do if he had found himself leading in Africa.

One of their proposed answers is to integrate, not isolate. Instead of underpinning transformation by a drive to nationalise it should be underpinned by a drive to globalise. Can South Africa build a strong sense of national identify and go global?


The Future is Asian by Parag Khanna


The book opens with a quip from Napoleon about China: “”Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world.’’ China’s Belt and Road Initiative is the most significant diplomatic project of the twenty-first century. Asians growing up in the past two decades have experienced geopolitical stability, rapidly expanding prosperity and surging national pride.

The world they know is one not of Western dominance but of Asian ascendance. As part of a drive to globalise, can South Africa, tap into Asia’s ascendance, while building and maintaining a strong sense of national identity?