Brent Meersman rattles the cage with reflections on our democracy

25 January 2021 - 10:54
Brent Meersman's 'Rattling the Cage' takes the reader on an informed tour of the South African reality.
Brent Meersman's 'Rattling the Cage' takes the reader on an informed tour of the South African reality.
Image: Supplied

Most South Africans have strong views about our past and present, often based on how we have been personally affected by history and an understanding of the challenges that face us as a country. But how well-examined and solid are these positions? Have your views been properly thought through? Are you correctly informed? Do you have the facts straight?

Rattling the Cage takes the reader on an informed tour of the South African reality: from the highs and lows, the successes and failures, former president FW de Klerk’s gaffes to Fees Must Fall, the Oscar Pistorius trial, the 2010 Fifa World Cup, triple BEE, global warming, the Covid-19 pandemic, gay rights in Africa and veganism.

Among the questions Meersman asks are:

  • Do South Africans still believe in their constitution and democracy?
  • Why do so many young South Africans say former president Nelson Mandela was a sellout and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a dismal failure?
  • Is outlawing hate speech and criminalising racist behaviour a good idea?
  • Why do communities still burn their schools?
  • How did the Marikana massacre happen in the democratic era?
  • Why are African immigrants increasingly unwelcome in SA?
  • Can our media be trusted to tell us the truth? and
  • How do we embrace climate change?

History, big picture philosophy, grassroots journalism and a novelist’s eye – animated by a genuine sense of moral indignation at the current state of the nation – come together in these essays to provide critical perspectives on and insights into SA’s recent past and current political, economic and social undercurrents.

No matter what your views are, you are sure to find your understanding of the country deepened, challenged and sometimes changed.

Brent Meersman is the co-editor of GroundUp and has chaired the Cape Town Press Club since 2013. He previously wrote for the Mail & Guardian (2003–16), This is Africa (2014–18) and New Africa Analysis (London), and his work has been translated and published internationally. Meersman is the author of seven books, including a political roman-à-clef, Primary Coloured, and an ambitious trilogy tracing the lives of three South African families from 1978 to 2000, Sunset Claws, of which Deborah Steinmair wrote in Rapport: “Meersman is one of this country’s greatest story tellers.” His critically acclaimed memoir, A Childhood Made Up, was published in 2020.