Monday, October 19, 2009

Jansen's Usual Drivel

I want to like Jonathan Jansen but he makes it almost impossible most times.

In the past I have written here that Jansen is "a prodigious kisser of white ass" only to edit those words because I worried that I was not being fair.

I guess there are times when my will to say as I please must be tempered.

But then again I have not really been one to mince words irrespective of the fallout.

Jonathan Jansen, as you know, is the first black vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS) since apartheid ideology brought it to life.

That he was chosen by the 'herrenvolk' who still run that institution is telling.

I was, therefore, not shocked to learn that he decided to drop the charges and cook up some contrived contextualization that essentially robs the black victims of a fuller redress in a criminal court.

Jansen is adept at playing racial politics to seem as if he is addressing wider concerns about fairness, equality, and justice, among other concerns.

Take for example a recent media article where he comments on skin discrimination and race essentialization in post-apartheid South Africa.

His article is entitled "Our Troubles Are Still Skin Deep" and it deals in part with a movie about a white girl who appeared coloured.

The movie was shown on the UFS campus and the audience participated in a discussion afterward.

Jansen comments on some of the audience discussion and defies his own logic by racializing the commentators and their individual comments.

In so doing, he appears to berate black students for their 'usual' responses.

He also addresses the absence of white students at the screening by saying that they would be victimized by blacks and made to feel guilty for their parents deeds.

His reasoning betrays a nuanced understanding of post-apartheid racism.

I don't think Jansen is stupid enough not to know what he is doing. I think he is deliberate in the well worn manner that many liberals are when faced with racism.

He knows the game very well.

When it suites him he will elevate individual racism over institutional racism.

Where it does not, like in the Reitz case, he hides the complicity of four white thugs behind the issue of institutional racism.

Either way, he softens the gaze on whiteness and its excesses.

In short, I am now absolutely convinced that his political purpose can be crudely summed up by my kissing comment above.

His Reitz decision is nothing short of a betrayal.

Jansen's nonsense about a need for reconciliation at UFS merely advances his standing among his chosen volk.

Nothing can come out of denial and he must not be seen to be anything more than a selected leader who promotes the consensus that black life is worth less than white life.

If he was more than just another lackey of whiteness he would remember that the Soweto Riots of 1976 demonstrated the will of black folk not to be taught in the language of the oppressor.

The fact that he has now decided that part of his reconciliation efforts is to force Afrikaans on black students demonstrates the political substance of Jansen.

The ball is now in the court of the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Blade Nzimande, to set aside Jansen's usual drivel.


Picture Credit

UPDATE (October 20): "Jansen clarifies Reitz statement"

Seems Jansen needs to let you know that UFS is "simply" dropping its complaint against the Reitz 4 but that criminal charges and human rights charges are still pending at the Directorate of Special Prosecutions and the Human Rights Commission, respectivley.

Additionally, in a move that adds to the idiocy of doing advertisements for ABSA (the bank owned by the incalcitrant former slave trading Barclays Bank), Archbishop Tutu has come out in support of Jansen's decision.

I am starting to believe that the Arch is losing his damn mind!


alleman said...

Ridwan I agree with you that the procution of the Reitz students should have gone ahead.

But do you really believe Afrikaans was the only language of oppression? That is just wrong - English is equally a language of Apartheid and oppression - not just in this country, but in many other places - some of which you have blogged about too. I am sure the Angification of Iraq is under way already.

Making the university Afrikaans was an anti-imperialist act; no good for black people but still.

If you think the Anglification of the universitity (which I suspect Jansen will phase in slowly but surely) is right and OK, then I find that very hard to reconcile with your claimed anti-imperialist stance.

Also, I find your use of 'herrenvolk' to make some kind of Nazi-associaciation with us deeply hateful.

Ridwan said...

Alleman thank you for your comment.

I do not believe that Afrikaans stands alone and unique as a language of oppression.

But, in the context of my post Afrikaans is linked to the Soweto Riots of 1976.

As you know at that time the apartheid government wanted to legislate an Afrikaans-only curriculum for blacks.

And, in the context of Jansen and the UFS the issue is forcing blacks to study Afrikaans as a requisite for graduating.

This aspect of your comment is relevant in the wider context of our history.

However, the notion that I would support the Anglification of the UFS, or any other institution in South Africa, is just funny.

The term "herrenvolk" is not of my making and very much part of the history of Afrikanerdom.

It is even conceptually referenced in the former national anthem, Die Stem.

The term references the notion that Afrikaners were uniquely and providentially endowed to claim South Africa.

As such "herrenvolk", or people of the heavens, is not merely about conflating Afrikaners with Nazis or Nazism.

There are no Nazis in apartheid history and politics but there are sure are a lot of Afrikaners.

Still, I hate no-one.



Aasia said...

I *ahem* don't know what to say. Maybe I told you so! But i won't he waxes and wanes better than the sea.

But that aside I do believe in this instance I would have to agree with his decision somewhat.

He should have insisted on a reconciliation, showed them why they should be remorseful and allow they victims a platform to voice their anger and hurt. Then help bring about positive resolution so that justice is served and the name of the uni goes unhurt.

That aside, another well writ article, sorry have been scarce, deadlines make me moody!

Ridwan said...

Aasia thank you for your comment.

I trust that your deadlines are being met in a way that releases some anxiety.

Yep you tell me so ... ;)

But like you I would have liked a greater embrace of the victims in this case.

They have essentially been made invisible and sacrificed.

Jansen in true egoistic fashion waited until his inauguration to 'free' the Reitz four.

He ignored reaching out or even talking to the victims and their union before taking the decision.

Thanks again for weighing in here.