Dalhousie, who brought roads, railways, telegraph lines, canals and so forth to the conquered territories, has been described as the Architect of Modern India; and Rhodes, who died within rifle-shot of where I now live, can be seen as the Architect of Modernity for large sections of Southern Africa. Was E.B.J. Knox, who worked as an architect and engineer for Rhodes, an Engineer of Modernity? Is Albie Sachs, whose hand was so firm on the tiller of the creation of our magnificent Constitution, an Architect of the New South Africa? Perhaps, but only if we buy in to the metaphor that the modern world is a building or structure, whose shape can be demarcated and understood, perhaps in advance, and whose rules can be comprehended by systems of knowledge and by the powerful men (and some few women) who control them.
Is the world an architect’s drawing-board, or a wax tablet on which such men and their proxy personae can efface what they dislike and inscribe their character, or is it something larger, more complex, perhaps indeterminate or relative?