Sowetan on 18 February 2016

The Monday Letters by Thabo Mbeki have elicited much public debate.

There is no gainsaying that the letters must generate conflicting views and that this augurs well for our democracy. Interestingly, it is the quality and manner of debate that is more revealing about the state of our democracy than the letters themselves.


“Study the historian before you study the facts. The historian and the facts of history are necessary to one another. The historian without his facts is rootless and futile; the facts without the historian are dead and meaningless,” wrote EH Carr in his classic What is History.

In other words, history is not only what the facts say nor only what the historian writes. Rather, the interaction between the two, as well as context and interpretation, is what constitutes history. Therefore, not even Mbeki has the last word. As it always happens, it is possible that events of the past, present and future may impact on our history and how we interpret and experience it.

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