Geek Ink Thinks: My old university is slowly being burnt to the ground #feesmustfall

I haven’t captured all my thoughts on the Fees Must Fall crisis in this piece, but considering another building at the university I graduated from has been set on fire, I thought it was time to put pen to paper. I chose to do this as a response to an article written by News24, who interviewed Athabile Nonxuba. Nonxuba is a student leader and is connected with the Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movements.

Disclaimer: These are the views of a native non-white South African who has been called a “house n*gger”, “coconut”, and other derogatory names by people involved in the RMF movement.

These are the main points the News24 article brings up, along with my thoughts:

The current curriculum dehumanises black students.

“We study all these dead white men who presided over our oppression, and we are made to use their thinking as a standard and as a point of departure.”

Oh come on. Just because a white person was the source of knowledge doesn’t mean they are part of the group of dead white men who oppressed you. And let’s be real here, apart from social/cultural differences and individual differences in intelligence, it’s not like people from one race think differently from people from another race, which seems to be your main issue.

Our own thinking as Africans has been undermined. We must have our own education from our own continent

All knowledge builds upon existing knowledge. Just because the experts have the same skin colour as people who oppressed you doesn’t change the fact that they are experts. Information is important, regardless of where it came from.

We cannot be decolonised by white people who colonised us

Get over your skin colour friend! Not every white person in a position of power/influence today is an “oppressive coloniser”. SOME OF THEM ACTUALLY FOUGHT TO FREE YOU AND YOUR PARENTS.

Decolonisation advances the interests of Africans, instead of advancing Eurocentric interests.

”Eurocentrism does not serve our interests culturally, socially, economically. It does not resolve the issues of Africa.”

This actually makes some sense. I do believe, at least economically, a lot of what goes on does not benefit South Africans directly. That is, even under a capitalistic system, the money could be put to better use here at home, as opposed to the significant amounts of cash that is probably leaving the country.

Education is not neutral, it serves particular interests

Agreed. But do you as a 20 something year old have the knowledge/insight to actually tell what interests are being served and can actually PROVE it? If you can, do it, and make ACTUAL WORKABLE SUGGESTIONS for how to fix it.

Students are forced to accept certain standard works to study in certain fields – even the work of Karl Marx. Although considered worthy, the German philosopher’s work is offered repeatedly as a standard, instead of introducing new ideas by Africans

Agreed. African intellectuals should be given the same level of credit as their European counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean they get that credit for free. Their work must be put under the microscope just like European experts.

White lecturers teach students African music and the base of music studies is classical European music

Agreed. This is a completely solid argument. (Edit: This is not to say white people cannot teach you about African music, but it’s very likely that an African person could teach you more about African music than a white person could, so why aren’t they put into these positions if they are qualified to teach).

The curriculum does not accommodate creativity and expression in African languages. For example, drama students feel they are marked lower if they produce work in an African language.

I don’t care what you FEEL friend. Prove it. Gather the information and show that African language drama student’s work(s) are getting lower marks than their English speaking equivalents.

Decolonised education is not the same as transformed education

Ok. What is the difference?

For decolonised education to be introduced, the existing system must be overthrown and the people it is supposed to serve must define it for themselves.

”We want to review that system and that curriculum, and that can’t happen without a decolonised institution.”

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Again, JUST BECAUSE IT CAME FROM WHITE PEOPLE DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MAKE IT BAD. For fuck sakes! Does it need reworking? Yes, but “overthrowing” it and starting from scratch will set education in this country back DECADES. HOW IS THAT SUPPOSED TO HELP ANYONE?

The problem with this whole situation is that most people agree with the spirit of the movement. Education should be cheaper, and it should be free for those who cannot afford it. But the demands, destruction, and violent reactions of a minority of students make it seem like they are less concerned with education and more concerned with their future political careers…


One thought on “Geek Ink Thinks: My old university is slowly being burnt to the ground #feesmustfall

  1. Your grasp of the socio economic dynamics and their history in this nation is weak. Decolonization in essence is the anti thesis for colonization, those who were put last during colonialism shall be put first in the decolonized state. It wont take a professor of sociology to see that South AfriKKKa is not a decolonized state, our income distribution shows this picture clearly, the minority still get the majority of the pie, those who have been first since 1652 are still the highest earners, the Employment Equity report also paints a very “dark” picture for the majority in this country. This reality was created by whites for whites, it was designed to favor them in perpetuity for they created a Capitalistic system and took the means of production away from black people so in essence blacks were deprived entry from the “Free” market from the get go. Now backdrop this with a complete alienation of self through the negation of your history as just being ‘barbaric’ and your culture “savage”, the academy as being the primary institution of knowledge production, through its continued negation of African thought systems and epistemology further entrenches this relegation to sub human level of the black person by now implicitly, heck sometimes even explicitly stating that Africans are devoid of intellectual production. This then results in the reproduction of the same cycles and complexes of inferiority and superiority that have been prevalent for centuries. Also don’t appreciate the condescending tone towards us 20 year olds, having read 2 volumes of Capital I am quite well aware of the interests education serves in a capitalistic reality like ours. Also teach yourself about white privilege as a concept before shielding those old white men who did not oppress us but were more than happy to derive benefit out of our ancestor’s oppression, so innocent!


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