The drug whoonga has plagued South African communities for at least a decade, yet only gained significant public attention when it appeared more visibly in the inner-city and surrounding suburbs of Durban, the major city in the country’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Also known as nyaope, whoonga is a street concoction of B-grade heroin, rat-poison (strychnine), and various other chemical components.

What a dispiriting remark that was of Oliver Dowden’s about the “crown jewels”. It implied that the arts should be preserved, unchanging, apart from the common herd; it suggested that what matters is costly fabric. Fund buildings rather than people. Build a millennium dome rather than set up millennial scholarships for gifted youth. Give to theatres before protecting the freelancer's directors, actors, designers, choreographers – who make the stuff that gives theatres life.


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