In South Africa, there’s an idea that has hovered at the fringes of the national consciousness ever since the establishment of Nelson Mandela’s first democratic government in 1994: the “second transition,” also called the “second revolution.” South Africans weren’t exactly sure what it would entail, only that another great political, economic, social, even psychological and moral upheaval felt bound to happen. For many, even some black architects of liberation, it was a frightening concept, best filed away to the unopened cabinet at the back of the mind. The first revolution, after all, had been so painful to achieve.


For some 50 years, since our civil rights movement, we’ve held up the idea that equality in the form of tolerance and integration is the pinnacle of justice. I sometimes wonder if that derived, in part, from exhaustion after all the grinding conflicts of the 20th century. We wanted to believe we could have a society without power struggles. This was naïve. It pretends there’s no such thing as a public culture, no such thing as territory, and no such thing as the desire to see ourselves commensurately represented within it.

Eve Fairbanks, “The Global Face of Student Protest”