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The long death of South Africa’s political centre

 Cape Town Last Sunday, when South Africa beat Wales to go through to the rugby World Cup final against England, was the last day of a black week in South African politics. The valiant Democratic Alliance, the official opposition, the proud liberal party that fought both apartheid and the abuses of the ANC, fell into

Children’s literature has become horribly right-on

There was a spat the other week about a children’s book, Equal to Everything: Judge Brenda and the Supreme Court, which is about an encounter between a little girl called Ama and the nation’s pin-up, Brenda Hale. The book’s author is the Guardian columnist Afua Hirsch. It’s written in vague rhyming couplets with the worst

The family that helped Maro Itoje become a sports star

‘Education, education, education.’ At the time when Tony Blair was repeating this phrase after Labour’s victory in 1997, a Nigerian special needs teacher living in north London named Efe Itoje was drumming that same lesson into his young son. The boy was superb at football, rugby and athletics but his father insisted he focus just

Maro Itoje is a national hero for our time

Sport is a paradox. It’s supposed to be. Sport divides, but then again, sport unites. The England rugby union team play in the World Cup final in Japan on Saturday morning, thereby dividing the English from the South Africans, and dividing those who follow the game into two camps — England supporters and everybody else.

Notes on...

The unlikely beauty of urinals

In 1966, just as he was becoming famous, Michael Caine met John Wayne. The Holly-wood veteran offered him some advice: ‘Never wear suede shoes.’ The explanation? ‘One day, you’ll be taking a pee, and the guy next to you will say “Michael Caine!” and he’ll turn and piss all over your shoes.’ Urinals are tricky