'When in other parts of the world churches are set alight and mosques destroyed by mortal enemies, here, on the southern tip of Africa, Muslims and Jews break bread together and, in the process, keep us all together.'
Image: Cape Town Progressive Jewish Congregation
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Why does South Africa not fall off the precipice?

Economists are clear that if this economy does not grow soon, the prospects of new jobs are dismal and rising unemployment will be our fate. Educationists are clear that if the decline in education quality and the high drop-out rates continue, schools and universities will fail to produce the expertise required to rebuild the economy.

Political scientists warn that the continued increase in social unrest and lawlessness, coupled with the loss of trust in public institutions, threaten the long-term stability of this young democracy.

Once again it seems as if the country is at the edge of the precipice—and yet, we never go over the edge. Which raises the puzzling question, what holds South Africa together?

The first is our remarkable capacity for self-correction. There were about a dozen books in the late 1980s with frightful titles that warned of a racial bloodbath because of an intransigent white government and an widespread black resistance to apartheid. 

Read Jansen's full column on Times Select.