As the holiday season approaches, enjoy our dollops of brain-nourishing food for thought

As the holiday season approaches, enjoy our dollops of brain-nourishing food for thought
An aerial view of a beach in Cape Town. (Photo: Stephan Louis / Unsplash)

It’s hard to say which of the great variety of stories in the 64 pages we have curated, edited and designed for you in this week’s DM168 newspaper are my favourites, but for the sake of brevity, here are five I highly recommend.

Dear DM168 readers,

We are two weeks away from signing off on our super-duper bumper holiday edition of DM168, the last edition of the year, which will be on the shelves on 16 December. Two more weeks of the final stretch till our very exhausted team and I can switch off our computers and phones, the multiple Google meets a day, take very deep breaths and relax.

My family and I are taking a slow drive from Pretoria to the Cape, and all of us are dreaming of washing away this Highveld heatwave and the end-of-year exam and work marathon in the icy Atlantic.

Our lead story this week by Our Burning Planet writers Kristen Engel and Tony Carnie, and our Eastern Cape correspondent Estelle Ellis, is a great tipoff for all of you who, like us, are heading off to the seaside for the summer holidays.

Our writers have interviewed experts on the quality of seawater, looking at E. coli levels at Cape Town’s main beaches, and Durban and the Eastern Cape’s most popular seaside spots. It’s a mixed bag in all three provinces, but be sure to read about where to find the safest and cleanest surf, swim and dive spots.

It’s hard to say which of the great variety of stories in the 64 pages we have curated, edited and designed for you are my favourites, but for brevity’s sake, here are five I recommend you do not miss if you need to feel inspired, amused, entertained, informed or enlightened – in other words, if you need dollops of brain-nourishing food for thought.


Our arts-loving intern journalist Chuma Nontsele interviewed baritone Theo Magongoma, who is based in Cape Town. His mastery of his operatic voice beat 77 contenders from around the world to win the prestigious Elizabeth Greenfield Award in the US.


Our satirist Mr Styles takes a swing at Santa Thulas Nxesi, who is not just the minister who delivered Jacob Zuma’s firepool, but who is now magically going to get Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to deliver 2 million jobs out of nowhere to please his new master, Cyril Ramaphosa, just before next year’s election.


Our veteran Maverick writer and comedienne Marianne Thamm was invited to the Netherlands with a diverse group of Afrikaans-speaking performers at the same time that the Dutch voted in a right-wing populist as their country’s new leader. She came home wanting to kiss the tarmac, concluding that “South Africa is the happy carriage on the train to my heart”.


Daily Maverick’s Sports Editor, Craig Ray, who brought you his blow-by-blow account of the rugby World Cup from France, has written a sobering piece on the reason England captain Owen Farrell has decided to quit international rugby indefinitely. Farrell, whom Craig describes as a “heart-on-his-sleeve leader with a voracious competitive spirit and drive”, has chosen his mental wellbeing, and that of his family, after enduring relentless social media abuse.


It’s not often that I think a story is worth more than two precious pages of news­paper space, but every word of an essay offered to me this week by local independent publisher Tim Richman was so deeply insightful and thought-provoking that I could not cut a word. In his exploration of literature about the seemingly inhuman, arrogant, anti­social, selfish behaviour of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the Silicon Valley pioneer William Shockley, Tim asks a very serious question: “Why are so many Big Tech founders and industrial leaders such profound arseholes?”

This question might sound simplistically cynical, but it speaks to how our whole way of being has been upended and mani­pulated by Big Tech – including the violence and harm caused by unchecked social media and, more scarily, unchecked and unregulated artificial intelligence.

Enjoy your reading journey. Write to me with your thoughts and comments at [email protected].

Yours in defence of truth,


This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.


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