Film maker, author and blogger Aryan Kaganof is continuing his quest to tell the stories of South African universities against the backdrop of the wave of student activism.
His latest instalment explores the push for transformation at Stellenbosch University, where the foundations of apartheid were laid and are still well maintained.
In the past year, students have repeatedly chosen to down academic tools and take to the streets to protest against the university’s institutional racist culture and against Afrikaans as the primary language of instruction.
The drive for the radical transformation of the university has been championed by pressure group Open Stellenbosch, which has been unrelenting in its bid to decolonise the space.
Kaganof’s film is called Opening Stellenbosch: From Assimilation to Occupation. So far, only the first of three parts is ready for viewing. Part 1 shines a light on white allies in the movement, where some have advocated for a space strictly for black students. In the video, one student making a call for the black space says that black students need a safe space for healing in the face of the psychological – and other – violence they have faced.
The film is an in-depth look into the debates behind the scenes and the decision-making process that happens before the mass demonstrations that continue to make headlines.
It is too soon to give a comprehensive review of the film, which tends towards a whiny tone from white interviewees, but it looks like it could go in a good direction.
Kaganof’s previous work, Decolonising Wits, which was released last year, looked at the rise of the Economic Freedom Fighters student command at Wits University. The film was fairly well received, but some took issue that it was a white man documenting a black struggle.
Kaganof’s portrayal of the white allies in Part 1 of Opening Stellenbosch suggests that he understands his own bias/privilege/limitations as a white film maker telling the story of black students.
VOICES RISING The first of three parts of the film is ready for viewing