Born free but still in 1976 shack­les

CityPress - - News - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­press.co.za

“How do I proudly say I am a born-free South African when on this day I still live in a so­ci­ety that is fight­ing for ed­u­ca­tional trans­for­ma­tion, which is al­most the same thing our par­ents fought for in 1976? I can­not proudly say I am born-free any more.”

So said Free State Univer­sity stu­dent Mpume Ga­bela af­ter vi­o­lence be­tween black and white stu­dents left thick clouds of ten­sion over cam­pus this week.

In their con­tin­u­ing bat­tle for the abol­ish­ment of Afrikaans as a medium of in­struc­tion at the univer­sity, stu­dents took their protest to a rugby match in a bid to at­tract man­age­ment’s at­ten­tion, they said. But they didn’t ex­pect white rugby spectators to turn on them.

“They pounced on us and I stood there think­ing they won’t touch me be­cause I am a woman, but I was wrong,” said SRC deputy pres­i­dent Mpho Khati.

“I was slapped and kicked even af­ter I fell to the ground but the real slap on our faces was when the match con­tin­ued there­after as if noth­ing had just hap­pened.”

The cam­pus re­sem­bled a ghost town this week af­ter daily stu­dent demon­stra­tions. More than 20 stu­dents were ar­rested on Thurs­day.

“Our prob­lem is that UFS in 2016 is still the same as the one in 1997, even af­ter de­mo­graph­ics changed with black stu­dents now be­ing the vast ma­jor­ity on cam­pus but the cul­ture is still com­pletely white. We want th­ese de­mo­graph­ics to re­flect on the cul­ture here and not have ev­ery­thing be­ing Afrikaans and build­ings bear­ing colo­nial names,” said SRC pres­i­dent Lin­dokuhle Ntuli.

“We want to be seen as stu­dents all of us and not black or white. Why in this time and age do we still have a pol­icy which dic­tates that white stu­dents can only share a room with a black stu­dent if they both give con­sent to it? This must change, but there is no com­mit­ment show­ing from man­age­ment.”

Re­ports of re­venge started to spread and many whites fled cam­pus this week.

“Stu­dents will hold a mass meet­ing on Mon­day to de­cide a way for­ward be­cause we want to go back to learn­ing, but not un­der the cur­rent cir­cum­stances where divi­sion is still reign­ing,” Ntuli said.

PHOTO: LUCKY NX­U­MALO

UFS SRC pres­i­dent Lin­dokuhle Ntuli be­lieves the univer­sity must re­flect the de­mo­graph­ics on cam­pus, where the ma­jor­ity of stu­dents are black but Afrikaans still dom­i­nates

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