“The violent shall take it by force” – Thoughts on the Student Movement

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“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;” – W.B Yeats

It is interesting times to be alive and black in South Africa. Where the generations of the past were willing to settle and reconcile with the unrepentant perpetrators and beneficiaries of apartheid, we are now seeing a brand of black students who refuse to compromise. We are seeing black outsourced workers who refuse to succumb to the violence and harassment from the establishment. Slowly but surely the centre is no longer holding, the wheel of transformation is relentlessly moving in every corner of society.

Defenders of Apartheid, that is the ANC government and its police force, are left with egg on their face as white hooligans showed their true colors at the University of the Free State (UFS). But still the defenders of Apartheid wish this is just a passing phase and that soon things will return to ‘normal’. But they wont, they cant return to normal. The perpetuation of white economic violence against a black child and her parent cannot continue unabated. The cleaner at the University of Cape Town (UCT) refuses to clean any longer without her role being dignified. The gardener at the University of Kwazulu Natal (UKZN) refuse to continue any more without her job being secured. The worker at Tukkies (University of Pretoria) refuses to be maltreated by virtue of being black and at the forefront is the black child who refuses to suffer anymore by virtue of being black, who refuses to watch in silence as her parent continues to be humiliated and dehumanized.

Defenders of Apartheid killed Andries Tatane and got away with it. They killed Mambush Noki and the 33 other Marikana Mine workers and tried to wash it away at the Farlam Commission. They secretly hoped to dismantle the vigor of students with their commission on tuition fees. Black students are well aware that Government is not on their side, they know that the missing Minister of Education, Blade Nzimande, and the universities are not on their side. On their side is the spirit of Biko, Hani, Sobukwe and all those who died in the quest for liberation and not those who died in their mansions while a black life remains debased. Students know that they have nothing to loose, and unless their dignity is restored, they get degrees to work for white high school dropouts.

Some have accused the black student of unjustifiable violence. The same people turn a blind eye to white violence that black people are faced with everyday. White violence continues everyday unabated; it is economic, it is cultural, it is spiritual. White economic violence is evident everyday in the fact that the face of poverty is almost absolutely black in this country. White cultural violence is evident in the fact that everyday black people are forced to alter their ways so that they can be accommodated by white South Africa. Hence black people’s traditional clothes are considered informal and their languages are considered secondary. Hence there is no shame in a white school teacher asking the parents of a black child to communicate to their black child in English. It is a cultural onslaught and has had many dire effects whose discourse deserve a day of its own. White Spiritual violence was made evident once more in UFS, where a day after the assault on black students by whites, black students were seen the following day holding prayer meetings for peace with white students.

If you are a christian, or whatever religion, and feel inclined to pray to your God about what is happening in South Africa and specifically in Universities, by all means do so. But there is no doubt that any God, worth the name, would encourage any oppressed people to fight, burn things if they have to, in the quest to restore their dignity. So when your God respond by telling you to keep quite as blacks are discriminated, oppressed and excluded from education in their own country, then know that your God is a sham. When your God tells you to reconcile with people who are unrepentant and unwilling to reconcile, then you should know its time to find a new God. Peace cannot be at the expense of the oppressed, disposed and dehumanized people. And peace, like reconciliation, cannot be without justice.

We were there the night students proposed to march to Luthuli House and Wits University’s Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) leadership were up in arms because they couldn’t stomach the idea of marching against their handlers. Just as students did that night, we are encouraged that regardless of some of their leaders selling out, bowing down to university management and pressures from Luthuli House, students have remained steadfast. They are persisting relentlessly against all odds, even the unholy union of the PYA and Afriforum cannot deter them. More encouraging is the fact that their courage has started to bear fruits. Outsourcing have fallen in various universities and their parents are now formally employed by the universities. Soon, discriminatory language policies and fees will also fall, even though government is resisting.

The challenge is now on us, who are not students, black parents and workers who continue to watch as white violence is meted against us unabated. We have allowed the white factory manager to abuse us for far too long, we have allowed the white owned companies to disrespect us for far too long. We are complicit in making white South Africa comfortable with distorting our history and our cultures , violating our rights, getting away with stolen land, treating us as second class citizens in our country. If you are going to talk peace and reconciliation and the nice things that Mandela talked about (while doing nothing to transform the black life); then its OK, we must just agree that you are the enemy of black people and complicit in their dehumanization. As for those who seek to restore the dignity of the black person, who seek to reclaim his ownership of this land and his culture, who seek to reclaim his ownership of the economy as the custodian of all natural resources of this country; it can be done and more so in our life time. As the holy book says, only “the violent shall take it by force”.

By dzumbu