Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Apartheid University

The administration of the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein, South Africa, is working hard to condemn a heinous racist attack by four of its white students on Black staff members.

For those of you who do not know, the UFS is a formerly whites-only Afrikaans medium university that has struggled to integrate its campus.

In the past couple of years the University has allowed white students to maintain whites-only residences (dormitories). This practice still continues.

You read that right. The UFS has whites-only dormitories, inclusive of a mostly white faculty and administration, 14 years after the end of apartheid.

The University once explained whites-only residences as a matter of student choice. They claimed that white students were merely seeking to maintain their cultural heritage and, therefore, it was not really a matter of race exclusion.

Black students disagree. Many of them complain that white students seek to intimidate them and that they are at a disadvantage in classes where white faculty privilege white students.

This week white students rioted on campus to protest integration at UFS. Police were called in and students were arrested.

Now, just days later, a report surfaces that details an incident where white students made a video of Black female employees being humiliated for the purpose of protesting integration.

The Mail & Guardian reports that the "video allegedly depicts a mock integration of five elderly African staff members."

News24 reports that:
"The video shows four white male students taking black, elderly, women workers and making them down a bottle of beer, run a race, play rugby and then kneel and eat meat which had been urinated upon …"

Criminal charges are being brought against these students and the University has condemned this incident "in the strongest possible terms."

Still, this situation is beyond shameful. It speaks to the persistent arrogance of whiteness and its brutal mindset in the post-apartheid era.

The incident is also a failure of governance and political will. The ANC government has not effectively moved to integrate and reorient apartheid era whites-only universities.

Instead, the government has sought to coddle these kinds of institutions. This must change!

And we are not free. Not by far.


***Update(February 27)***

You can see the disgusting video here.

The BBC also has an updated article on the racist attack and some of the early fallout.


alleman said...

As a former student (from the late 1980's) I feel I should point out a few things. I never saw or heard of any such criminal acts when I was there, and I think anyone who knows the university will tell you that this is in no way typical of anything.

Also, the issue of segregation in the dormitories is a strange one, because black and white students leaders agreed some years ago (after my time) to have seperate residences. That is, neither group wanted integration in the residences. But the rector of the university recently made a decision on his own accord that residences should be integrated - as I understand it, there was no demand for this, and as I am now far removed from the place I would not venture an opinion on whether his initiative is wise or not.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful portrayal of the atrocities of South Africa on the web. Eating meat that kids have urinated on. Disgusting!!! Lets bring the country to its knees over this.

Please continue your good work by exposing the uncontrolled and rampant savegery of voilent crime in South Africa. Please do some articles of a mother and daughter raped and shot in the face by blacks for her cellphone while dropping her daughter off at school. Or elderly farmers and their families that have been tortured for eight hours before being burnt alive.

See http://www.stopboergenocide.com/166210/index.html


P.S. I hope its ok to say "blacks" when refering to savage killers, but I guess it is ok as your article says "white" with the kids that pissed on the meat.

Muzi said...

Why am I not surprised? Alleman thinks that it is okay for students to treat adults like that if they are not happy with integration. Sounds like he is condoning this.
Anonymous thinks it is not a big deal, let me guess victims are black instead he wants you to change focus to some white farmers because that is what think is the problem. Disgusting, no wonder you don’t want to be known.
Thanks Ridwan for an in-depth post the response from Alleman and Anonymous says it all about the attitude of whites towards Africans

alleman said...

Muzi - you are lying. Your are being outrageaously dishonest to suggest I condone the students behaviour. I do not. I want them to face criminal justice.

Ridwan said...

Alleman thanks for looking in.

I was at Rhodes in '86 and it was the only white university that allowed people of color to stay on campus.

Rhodes did so against the law.

I did not even think of applying to then UOFS even though it was just 2 hours from Kimberley. They did not accept people of color.

In these contexts, UFS has not moved very far.

There was no agreement between Black and white students on segregation.

White students demanded segregated residences and it has remained so until now.

If you read the statement on the university website you will see the administration plotting to move ahead with integration.

As a result, many white students rioted on campus last week. The police had to intervene as I have pointed out in the post.

It is white students who are unhappy with the decision to integrate, not Black students.

I meet with students from across South Africa routinely. In my meetings I have heard horror stories from Black students about campus life.

I have also heard white students express discontent with the climate on campus. Few of these students are happy about integration.

It must be pointed out that last year the university was put on notice in terms of integration by Minister Pandor.

It is thus not true to say that the admnistration has decided to move in this direction of its own freewill.

UFS is not happy with the decision to force integration. But they have no choice ... as you know UFS is a public institution and is funded by the government.

I expect that your memories of the university would be very different than those Black students who have felt pressured there.

Today there have been mass rallies on campus to demonstrate against this despicable action.

Among the marchers were white staff and students who have joined Black students to express their disgust.

SABC news at 7pm showed some of the video tonight. It was shocking to view.

Unlike some of the comments at the News24 story, this was not about fun or creative license.

My heart broke to see older Black ladies on their knees and eating urine soiled meat from a bucket.

This is not humanity. I would like to think that no-one would condone this kind of inhumanity.

I think there is need for white South Africans anywhere to look deep and to stand up and condemn this behaviour.

The same is true for what happened at Skielik. Something is dreadfully amiss.

There is need for moral leadership and not excuses.


Ridwan said...

Anonymous do you really think that sarcasm is needed to address this inhumane situation?

The crimes you cite are very sad indeed. I am disgusted that these kinds of things happen in SA.

Innocent white people and everyone else deserve to live in a country where we are safe and secure.

Still, you are deliberately using the tragedies for excusing the horrors at UFS.

I don't think that the vast majority of readers here are buying your indecent nonsense.


Ridwan said...

Muzi thanks for looking in again. I trust all is well with you up in Jozi.

I am saddened by the deteriorating race relations in SA broer.

The South African Institute for Race Relations just declared tonight that racist incidents are on the increase in the last two months.

They point to the Skielik tragedy where a white youth killed several Black people for the hell of it.

One of the deceased was just a baby.

And even as we reeled over Skielik there were those in the white community saying that this was not racism. The boy was mentally disturbed.

How does this help to address racism?

Are we to live in denial forever?

Tonight a I watched one of the ladies who were victimized by the UFS students sob sadly.

That woman looked after their sorry asses. Cleaned for them and looked after them like family.

Yet they saw it fit to reduce her to a subhuman.

And they did so to tell others this is what they thought about integration at UFS.

This angers me to no end.

I know there are some white folks who think this is an Afrikaner issue.


This is a white thing. These boys have been nurtured in the kind of racism that apartheid brought.

White folks need to look deep and not make excuses.

Peace Muzi,

Dione said...

In our un-evolved state- the one and only race- the human race is lacking true humanity.
The more violence you give the more violence to be received.
Every “group” feels targeted, and continues to be a target because of their own actions, that they feel are justified for continuing conditions, and violence.
It would be nice, if everyone would put a stop towards hatred and violence. This truly makes the world weak when we need to be strong.

I don’t know how anyone with any morals could walk by, or witness someone with nothing to eat, and not help them if they were in the position. On the other hand, I know here in the US, some people resent being helped. I was once at a grocery store late at night, and there was an African American woman there with many children in the line in front of me purchasing top ramen and milk. She was a dollar short, so she decided to put the milk back. I stepped up to give her a dollar and she gave me a look of the worst hatred and refused it. I told her it was cool, that she could take it or leave it, but it would make my day. She practically told me to go to hell. I will never forget that, however it wouldn’t stop me from doing it again. You see, we are all unique and individual and no one can be held accountable for their “race”, or the actions of others. Kindness is what matters, and you never know what has happened to someone which may have triggered their response.

Ridwan said...

Anonymous (February 28) if you think you are fooling me with your racist bullsh*t about Indians and coloureds you are wrong.

You won't get any space here spreading racist nonsense on my blog.

And mostly, if you think I am fooled into thinking you are Black, you are sorely mistaken.

Grow some courage and make yourself known if you want to participate in the discussion here.

It is, nevertheless, funny to see just how low your apartheid mindset has to stoop to get noticed.


Dione said...

Hey Ridwan,
I hope you didn't get two of the same posting from me on this one. My slow computer and dial up seems to insist that I submit things several times upon occasion.

I do want to say that conditions there are disapointing. White people in South Africa can hardly comprehend what it is to be not-white and hated so much.
I hope things improve, especially within universitys where the future sits and develops opinions and information.


Anonymous said...

Ridwan,Im black and proud to be one.I comment annonymously in all blogs and Im not going to tell you who I am.I have lived with all kinds of races and I know what Im talking about.Blacks are always the one comprimising,I have compromised so many times in my life and I know what we talking about.

If you understand sotho,you will realise in the video went along with everything,even though they did not know that the food has been urinated.I dont think they would have played with black kids like that,but because they were white,they compromised and played along,maybe to win that bottle of alcohol,who knows??

Im black and dont condone what happened there but its high time blacks look deep into themselves and see how much they compromise to keep relationships.

As for other races who call themselves blacks whenever it suits them,they need to look deep into themselves and realise how much they not helping with racism among black peeps...

Ridwan said...

Anonymous this comment is not so wide ranging in its condemnation of those who do not define as themselves as Black.

Still, you paint with too broad a brush and do so without grounded specifics.

I do not want to disagree that some folks who are Indian and coloured discriminate against Blacks, whites, and among themselves.

That is the nature of race based systems.

But what does this have to do with my post, and how do you reach the decision that I would disagree with you about Indians as you did in your previous comment.

You seem eager to assume a lot about my identity and then situate yourself as authentic enough to know what is and what is not Black.

You are ignoring the era of Black Consciousness. Just because your skin is Black does not mean you get to assume you are the font of Blackness.

Blackness is a politics and not just a skin color.

The examples you give are prejudicial, even racist, in their assumptions.

You seem to assume that you can tell stuff about Indians and coloureds by the nasty experiences that you have experienced.

This is a fatal flaw. It is racist to assume that an individual can be collectivised in this manner.

The place to start is to recognize that race is a false consciousness in sense that it is not organic.

Rather, race is a socio-historic and political construct and not ever a biological one.

In this context one must be careful about assumptions based on interacting with individuals.

For example, Indians may not eat at your house because they are Muslim or vegetarian, for example.

Their decision would be religious.

White folks may disagree with you on AA or BEE but that does not make them automatically racist against Blacks.

There are Black people who are not for AA or BEE. And there are white people who are for AA and BEE.

Quick and hasty assumptions about what is and what is not racism must be avoided.

Your girlfriend, as you write, was with you despite the fact that she was coloured. Yet you want to throw all coloureds into one heap by assuming that her parents' rejection of you was racist only.

My question to you is simple.

Why are you raising these issues in a post that deals with the Free State Four?

I don't want to assume that you feel I have no claim to being Black.

Maybe you can tell me what you are driving at in the context of my post.

Also, what do you mean by this, and please be specific:

"other races who call themselves blacks whenever it suits them,they need to look deep into themselves and realise how much they not helping with racism among black peeps ..."

I do agree that we should not be fighting about racializations. What we should be doing is working toward justice.

Working toward justice should include white people and others too.

There is no place for race-based chauvinism of any kind.

And, there simply is no place for showboating hollow notions of race.

Thank you for your comment.