The Advisory Council is said to be representing our parents. How can it represent them when they have not elected it? These people must of necessity please the man who appointed them. This council consists of chiefs who have never been to University. How can they know the needs of students when they have not been subjected to the same conditions? Those who have been to University have never studied under Bantu Education. What authentic opinion can they express when they don’t know how painful it is to study under a repugnant system of education? I wonder if this Advisory Council knows that a Black man has been most unceremoniously kicked out of the bookshop. Apparently, this is reserved for whites. According to policy, Van Schaiks has no right to run a bookshop here. A white member of the administration has been given the meat contract to supply the University – a Black University.Those who amorphously support the policy may say that there are no black people to supply it. My answer to them is: why are they not able to supply the University? What is the cause? Is it not conveniently done that they are not in a position to supply these commodities?
White students are given vacation jobs at this university when there are students who could not get their results due to outstanding fees.Why does the administration not give these jobs to these students? These white students have eleven universities where they can get vacation jobs. Does the Administration expect me to get a vacation job at the University of Pretoria? Right now, our parents have come all the way from their homes only to be locked outside. We are told that the hall is full. I do not accept the argument that there is no accommodation for them. In 1970, when the Administration wanted everybody, a tent was put-up and a close circuit television was installed. Front seats are given to people who cannot even cheer us. My father is seated there at the back. My dear people, shall we ever get a fair deal in this land…the land of our fathers!
The system is failing. It is failing because even those who recommended it strongly, as the only solution to racial problems in South Africa, fail to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the policy. According to the policy we expected Dr Eiselen to decline Chancellorship in favour of a Black man. My dear parents, these are the injustices no normal student can tolerate – no matter who he is and where he comes from.
In the light of what has been said above, the challenge to every Black graduate in this country lies in the fact that the guilt of all wrongful actions in South Africa, restriction without trial, repugnant legislation, expulsions from schools, rests on all those who do not actively dissociate themselves from and work for the eradication of the system breeding such evils. To those who whole heartedly support the policy of apartheid I say: do you think that the white minority can willingly commit political suicide by creating numerous states which might turn out to be hostile in future?
We Black graduates, by virtue of our age and academic standing, are being called upon to bear greater responsibilities in the liberation of our people. Our so-called leaders have become the bolts of the same machine which is crushing us as a nation. We have to go back to them and educate them. Times are changing and we should change with them. The magic story of human achievement gives irrefutable proof that as soon as nationalism is awakened among the intelligentsia, it becomes the vanguard in the struggle against alien rule. Of what use will be your education if you can’t help your country in her hour of need? If your education is not linked with the entire continent of Africa it is meaningless.
Remember what Mrs. Suzman said “there is one thing which the Minister cannot do; he cannot ban ideas from men’s minds”.
In conclusion Mr. Chancellor I say let the Lord be praised, for the day shall come, when all shall be free to breathe the air of freedom which is theirs to breathe and when that day shall have come, no man, no matter how many tanks he has, will reverse the course of events.
God bless you all!
By Onkgopotse Tiro
(Tiro made this liberating speech at the University of the North on 29th April 1972 at the height of Apartheid aggression. Long Live the Spirit of Tiro Long Live!)