When Jacob Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene at night in December 2015, I and other activists telephoned each other the next morning.
We were gripped by an intense sense of grief, the kind you experience upon hearing of a serious personal loss - such as the death of a close relative.
It felt like our country had died. The backdrop to this episode was public speculation about an impending nuclear deal with Russia, a deal we were certain would collapse the entire economy.
By this time Zuma had made a name for himself as one of Africa's stupidest kleptocrats, willing and happy to steal even the future of unborn babies. The Guptas had already established themselves as the real robbers running the state.
Our analysis was that, cornered as he was, Zuma was in suicide-bomber mode; he could detonate the country any minute. Thus we felt it was better to die fighting than to be killed while running away. It is this sombre background that thrust people like me who had carved out a stable professional space in academia back into Struggle mode.
The mood among activists was that of preparedness to fight. Some of us were already marked men, followed by spies wherever we went, and stopped by unmarked police vehicles to breathalyse on our way home from parties. Our families and friends were rightly concerned about our security. We did not care, for the fire of patriotism flamed in our stomachs. It couldn't be dowsed. Those of us who are relatively young got a taste of what the generation of Mandela must have felt like under the brutality of apartheid.