A Culture of Disruption

“In order to accommodate students affected by recent student led disruptions, the final date for registration has been extended to 24 July 2013.
The final date for payment still remains 31 July 2013.”

This is the latest notice from UNISA, the University of South Africa.

It is no longer my place to harshly criticise the students who have caused these disruptions.

A few months ago I was, to my mind, wrongfully chided for being racist in venting my spleen against those who cause disruptions to the way of life, learning and, most importantly, way of working for most South Africans.

duh

May I just add that the latest disruptions for this once admired university has been caused by black students, most of whom will not complete their first year’s studies, not owing to a lack of accommodation, or shortage of funds, or of having their basic human rights infringed upon, but rather due to an inferior matric certificate where a pass mark of around 30% is the benchmark being sought after by the minister of Basic Education (a spurious title, if ever there was one), Angie Motshega, who was mysteriously praised recently by this country’s political leader of the official opposition, one Helen Zille.

helen zille

Mrs Zille argued that Motshega had met most of the constitutional requirements in the performance of her duties as minister, and that the blame should be laid squarely on the shoulders of the Limpopo (yes, readers, Limpopo) provincial government.

At the time of composing this post, the non-governmental organisations, Equal Education and Section 27, have disagreed vehemently with Zille’s statements, while waiting for a public apology from Motshega after she was accused of blatantly racist statements on the state of South Africa’s education.

The minister of higher education, one ‘doctor’ Blade Nzimande, has correctly argued that a radical ‘over-hall’ of education is required in this country, however, his motivations for doing so, are dubious to say the least.

Nzimande is Secretary General of the South African Communist Party which commands less than two-percent of support from South Africa’s electorate. He drives (or is driven) in at least two luxury German vehicles valued collectively at over R5,000,000 (five million rands).

Just yesterday, lecturers, demanded an above inflation and unreasonable 8-10% salary increase. While doing so, they protested loudly on campus and prevented students from entering lecture halls and other designated areas of learning. This institution is sadly named after the late Walter Sisulu, and is not known for educational excellence. What a grand pity.

Black South Africans, many of whom are nick-named Born Free, because they were born after South Africa’s first democratic elections, when protesting against some or another form of injustice, must learn that these injustices are today levelled at them by the ruling African National Congress which is misled by one Jacob G Zuma, who once upon a time dictated that a shower was all that was needed in order to shield a man of sexual prowess from contracting HIV and Aids. Like, Zuma, they cannot now level blame on the previous apartheid regimes, for to do so would make no sense and be counter to their learning objectives.

Helen Zille’s puzzling complimentary review of Angie Motshega’s poor performance in government is ironically, partially correct. She remarked that Motshega has outperformed her predecessors, including the late Kader Asmal, the architect of South Africa’s educational woes. This is a shocking indictment of the state of education in South Africa.

Now, while a minority of students on the campus of my university toyi-toyi, the majority of students have successfully completed registration for the second semester of studies. For some, including the writer of this post, it will be the culmination of a hard-earned degree.

But it will not be the end of the road as far as studies go, but rather, the opportunity to further enhance one’s education. Yes, it will be “the road less travelled”.

In my case, I will be pursuing an Honours degree which may be of value to a declining workforce, while simultaneously working on my Masters in Creative writing at the University of Cape Town, Africa’s foremost centre of learning.

It is a tall order for any one South African, young or old, white or black, embarking on a path of learning for a number of obvious reasons, such as economics, disabilities in any form, and yes, even racism which is not unique to South Africa. But the challenges, or difficulties as I would prefer to call them, can and will be overcome.

Not one, but a few men and women have argued against the pursuit of a tertiary education. Some of them have no formal education whatsoever.

I have listened to the pro’s and con’s of this argument for a while now, I have networked with a number of fortunate people, young and old, who are gainfully employed in both the financial services and broader communications sectors, and can now quietly and thankfully say that there is no better path in life than the pursuit of happiness (I borrow this term from the film of the same name which is based on the true life story of a young man who rose to fulfil a life-long dream. Most will be familiar with this film which was main-stayed by the American actor, Will Smith).

My profile portrait on the few social media networks that I have subscribed to, is ironic, but was chosen deliberately.

profile pic

For those who are not familiar with the landscape, let me explain.

I stood sombrely before a statue of Cecil John Rhodes, which is centred in the Company Gardens of the City of Cape Town, which in turn, is miniscule in comparison to New York City’s Central Park. The Company Gardens was established by the Dutch East India Company after Jan van Riebeeck and his small band of cohorts stole the land from its original inhabitors, the Khoi-khoi. Central Park, as many educated Americans, both native and non-native will know, stands upon the graves of many native Americans who were slaughtered to make way for their invaders, ostensibly from Europe.

Rhodes, a British subject, was one of the most brutal colonisers of the African continent who quite literally amassed a personal fortune of billions in any currency, including the derided US dollar, by means of stealing vast tracts of land and its resources from the continent’s natives, specifically the nomadic San people.

His statue is situated around the corner of an old and preserved slave bell.

The legend inscribed on this landmark reads; ” Your hinterland lies there “.

There is one legacy that Rhodes left which will remain of value for as long as Africans, well some anyway, continue to strive for, legally and peacefully through pen and books, rather than machetes and AK-47’s. He created centres of learning excellence which still stand today. One university is even named after him.

madiba

Late in his life, and through no fault of his own, Nelson R Mandela endorsed the Rhodes Foundation, and today it has been aptly re-named the Mandela-Rhodes foundation.

Nelson Mandela once stood in his cell on Robben Island and studied by the bright light of the moon. There was no stool on which he could sit, nor was there even a candlelight, but Mandela studied, and consequently educated (and empowered) himself to better understand how progress could be made in this fractious world of ours and make a positive contribution towards creating a better place for all to live in.

mandela the lawyer

I come from a culture of self-doubt, hatred, denial and even prejudice, both against myself and by myself. Once I broke the umbilical cord and laughingly took the Freudian Oedipal myth in my stride, I began not only to study, but to learn and discover new things about myself and about the greater universe in which we live.

library

I know now, in spite of arguments to the contrary, that the path and culture of learning is the correct one. Long may it flourish.

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