This is the fourth try

I’m trying to say something here about the state of our universities, and I just can’t seem to get it right.


UCT:  Riots, art-burning.

WITS:  Riots, bus-burning.

TUKS:  Riots, tear gas, police intervention, rubber bullets, students locked into lecture halls, closure of university until further notice.

I would like to take our universities and put them into a different dimension, and make people have to pass severe, individual quests to ever find the portal.  One by one; no groups admitted.  University is no shelter for the poor with free food and lodgings (UCT).  It is not a “right” to go to uni, by default; it has to be earned by achievement:  Dedication, application, study, hard work.  Yes, I fully agree that it should be free (i.e. funded by taxes, to which I contribute along with many others).  But it has to be earned.  And food and lodgings should not be “free”.  That sort-of breaks the concept.  It’s about studying, folks, not about getting a full belly!

Someone created these universities.  Someone created the concept, put together the curricula, made the whole thing functional so that there can be super-specialized professionals who know what they are doing.  It did not fall out of the sky; it came from a centuries, nay millennia-old culture from far away.  Now this is the very culture, and one of its languages, that you are attacking at the same time as demanding that “all” can get in?  Demanding that you have a right to all the best knowledge of this very same culture you are attacking?

If you hate this culture so much, why do you even want to use its educational institutions?  I just don’t get it!

The only thing they are achieving, as a mob, is breaking these institutions – for everyone.  Wait – wasn’t that the actual agenda?  #SAmustfall?

Americans – imagine this happening to Stanford!


25 thoughts on “This is the fourth try

    • OMG did she really say that?? Though I can understand the emotions, UCT actually defended the protest, until it got criminal. The student needs to consider the consequences of censorship.

    • Thanks, Opinionated Man.

      What really breaks my heart is that they are taking it out on their own achievers. If you look, the SA majority of graduates these days is certainly not white, why should they curtail their own top people?

  1. The tragedy is not in the anger itself, or even (yes, I’m going to dare to say this) in the destruction itself. It is in the lack of direction. The reasons for this outbreak – you have noted this – seem nonsensical, and their expression inarticulate. It’s because people know instinctively that something is dreadfully wrong (though everything is proclaimed to be good) but can’t see precisely what it is. Imagine you lived in a world where the only images you see are on a TV screen, you have never seen pictorial representation that didn’t move; imagine you had the urge to paint an picture that was static, but there was no canvas, no paints, no example to follow. Maybe you would try to daub food on the nearest wall, but it would not be long before you were hauled away as being mentally ill. I’m using this imagery (I would, I’m an author) to try to convey the state of mind, the state of psyche, that these people find themselves in. Incomprehension, lashing out in anger at whatever is nearest to them, even trying to rationalise what they’re doing (it’s about ‘free food’, ‘free accommodation’, oh yeah, really?).

    On a mundane note, it’s all right for ‘us’ to say that a university place should be earned and achieved; ‘we’ belong to a class that was never deprived, never underprivileged; ‘we’ were born with a leg-up, a boost, one or two rungs further up into a culture where that achievement was a little closer to our fingertips. We should dare to check our privilege.

    I know you will have a thousand-and-one arguments against what I have just said. I urge you to do that check first. Sit down and argue against yourself – it’s sobering.

    • Actually I can’t agree with you on this. The tragedy is in the destruction itself. This is not (though every political force tries to make it) a black/white issue. Even in the residences in UCT, over 75% of the students are African. Cape Town is our “whitest” city of all of them. In both Joburg and Pretoria these figures will be significantly higher.

      The real tragedy is that they are shooting away their own children’s futures.

      They are ruining UCT, Wits and UP for the black students studying there escaping the underprivilege on their own steam. How much more tragic can it get?

      It does appear directionless, but the forces behind this kind of rubbish are usually the same – those who want SA broken and can’t handle that our Africans are coming into their own, entering university, studying, earning degrees and moving into the professional work scene.

      The update is that UCT is sorted by now and campus life continues. According to this source ( the main drive came from people (some not even registered students) who hadn’t even applied for residence. Those for whom there was no space (and a large proportion of people re-writing their November exams in January before moving on had something to do with it) were accommodated by the office looking for outside accommodation for them (and mainly, finding it). There were about 50 or so who were still going without.

      UP is still rioting. A friend of my daughter’s got locked into a lecture hall last week with a lot of other students, under tear gas and rubber bullets – she wasn’t even taking part in the process, she was just trying to attend class. By now the uni is closed; next week the semester tests begin, hopefully by then they will have reached a ceasefire. I don’t know how they will suddenly switch the entire curriculum in every subject to English overnight; it is a huge task.

      Wits – I stopped following that thing. I do believe they are still rioting too. Wits was traditionally our most riotous university, there’s constantly something going on there. The difference between protests and riots is that there is a way of protesting peacefully (I’m thinking of the Canadian Teachers’ Protest a number of years back when they lined the roads with their little placards etc picketing for higher salaries). A riot always contains criminal activity: Looting, setting fire to vehicles, there was one where the MEDUNSA students smashed every lecturer’s car windshield because they were rioting for “pass one, pass them all”. (Back then, a self-respecting African would certainly not study medicine at Medunsa. They knew those certificates were worth squat. Perhaps that has improved, idk.)

      The destruction and disruption of the universities has nothing to do with White Privilege. If the majority studying there is African, then how can it be? Btw you get the “Godwin’s Law SA Equivalent Award.” 😀 We seriously need someone like Godwin concerning the race card.

  2. Heavy. And one reason I seriously try to avoid reading ‘News” (sic).
    You should try it. Just for a week and see the difference it makes to your disposition.

    When people ask you questions in an aghast tone while gnashing their teeth you find yourself returning a bemused expression and saying, ”Really? I must have missed it.”
    Much better for your blood pressure, I assure you.

    • I don’t usually follow the news. But this concerns us as I have 3 children of which one was hoping to study next year; also, some of my daughter’s friends are studying, and one got caught in the middle of such a riot.

      Needless to say my artist daughter was horrified by the concept of anyone burning any kind of old painting.

    • (Dont worry.) Yeah…. I’ll second you there. I’m sort-of relying it will. It had better. Apart from that I’m of the opinion that a language – any language – ought to be given fair air, so to speak, if Tuks has genuinely decided to switch to English it becomes infinitely easier for my kids to study there (if they can and want to). Anyway let’s hope that by next year this time their teething problems will be fixed.

    • At Tuks, the students have voted Afrikaans out. I feel that actually only people who have passed their first year should get a vote, because of everyone who enrols, 85% drop out in the first year (and then the others have to live with the results of their vote). But whatever, at least it was sort-of democratic. I somehow don’t think the results would have been significantly different anyway, the demographic at Tuks is long since not all-Afrikaans any longer.

      In Wits and UCT, where English is already the language medium, they were rioting about other stuff. At all unis they are picketing for a lowering of the fees (I fully agree!), at UCT there was a mob (some of which were not even registered students) who were rioting because there was not enough space in the residences for all of them (and they wanted the lodgings and food for free!), and at Wits something really unrelated caused them to riot – the outsourcing of cleaning personnel! No idea how their minds work…

    • Ah yes … the term Free-dumb comes to mind.
      Someone has to pay and if the students don’t the the tax payer will.

      When you say ”voted out” does this mean voted out Afrikaans as a medium of instruction or as a subject entirely?

    • LOL, “Free-dumb”! 😀

      Yes, it’s been voted out as a medium of instruction. Afrikaans as a subject is probably still around (I’ve never looked at what they offer at Languages, I’d presume it would have stayed). When I studied there, every lecture was in Afrikaans, and me with it being my third language had to get used to it to keep up. But one does. One forgets that even English is mostly not the students’ home language, but a language like Tswana or Northern Sotho.

      The whole irony is that in Apartheid days, Africans in Pretoria tended to learn Afrikaans rather than English to get ahead and wouldn’t have struggled quite as much at an Afrikaans university. Ironically in those days, mainly they couldn’t. Today, the younger ones have English as their second language, so making them study in a third language is really a bit much. Still I don’t feel it’s good the way Afrikaans is being squished out of every school and institution. We even have a separate German school and a French school, a Chinese school… if there were enough German people in town, there would be five or ten German schools… why Afrikaans? I feel it would be a lot more sensible to actually build those Sotho and Pedi and Tswana primary schools, so that people have a choice, it is firmly established that children learn conceptual content like e.g. maths significantly better in their home language.

    • A photographer is the unwitting witness to a murder in a park. Fiction, of course, but the photographer is very loosely based on David Bailey. It was released in 1969.
      A very ”swinging sixties ” feel.
      It’s considered somewhat iconic.

  3. These students are having their strings pulled and are too stupid to know it. There are political agendas at work here.
    The head of NU SRC, when I debated at a Statues Must Fall meeting, as well as some of the professors, had a ridiculously distorted idea of history. He was full of emotive nonsense.
    Free education should only go to a certain level, after which it is earned by paying for it or earning bursaries with outstanding effort.
    We couldn’t afford it. I didn’t go. I wanted it – I paid for it myself later, doing it part-time. Privilege? Pah!

    • That’s the whole thing – the forces at work don’t even care, their agenda is more along the lines of #unismustfallthosebloomingelitistinstitutionsdon’tfitintoourplans. The students (I’m fast getting to the point where I want to differentiate between “freshmen” and “students” – being those who passed their first year) have no idea.

      Well the trouble with bursaries is that those, too, are politically controlled. And yes, I know a number of people who worked themselves through Uni and I also studied further part-time while working, but today even getting employed in the first place is nearly dependent on certificates and paperwork. Even the goldsmith won’t let my daughter job-shadow without demanding that she take an expensive course first.

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