Fukuyama, in The End of History (1992: 20) describes apartheid as “monumentally foolish”. In truth, apartheid is only monumentally foolish if one restricts its definition – if one regards apartheid as having been only one thing. It wasn’t. There is more to apartheid than what we have been socialised to look out for. In reality this apparent foolishness is well able to accommodate the strangest contradictions.
So-called “contact tracing” during Covid-19 has a long footprint. Govan Mbeki, in Learning from Robben Island, reminisces about how the early form of contact tracing would have worked in the Bantustans:
“(A)ll social activities, e.g. beer drinks, weddings or gatherings of any type, must have the approval of the Native Commissioner and the police. Note too that the kraal-head must report the arrival of a strange person at his home to the sub-headman or chief, who immediately must inform the location chief. In cases of urgency the chief must inform the nearest trader who has been appointed as a postal agency and had a telephone installed at his shop. The trader transmits such information to the police by phone (p.157)“
Mbeki, G. (2015). Learning from Robben Island: The Prison Writings of Govan Mbeki (Compiled by C. Bundy). Cape Town: Kwela