• Ivor Chipkin

1000 Year Empire


The Millenium Tower in Zemmun, Belgrade. It was built in 1896, the year the main gold reef was discovered and the city of Johannesburg was founded, to celebrate a 1000 years of the Austro-Hungarian rule. Five of them were built at the cardinal points of the Empire. In 1896 the First World War was unthinkable. Empires, however, are always waiting for the barbarians at their limits. In 1896 the British Empire was being drawn in the largest colonial war it had ever fougt against the Boers as its fringes became increasingly frought.

The Millenium Tower is today in a suburb of Belgrade, Serbia. A sediment of the many Imperial tides that have washed over these banks of the Danube; Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, the city heavily bombed by the Germans in the Second World War and then again recently by Nato.


Here it is difficult not to think of the precariousness of political entities, their vanities and their institutions. What is left are myriad people thrown together in so many combinations.


South Africa too is such a field of crumbled vanities, often with a political class out of touch with with precariousness of their enterprise, and hence without humility.


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