Search­ing for jus­tice in the fire

CityPress - - Voices - SHANDU RAMUGADI voices@city­

When Monde Non­ape reg­is­tered for a Bach­e­lor of Arts in psy­chol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of the Western Cape (UWC), the plan was to fo­cus on the men­tal health and the psy­che of black peo­ple in the town­ships.

“Grow­ing up, I knew that the great­est weapon in a hu­man be­ing was the mind,” said Non­ape. “I wanted to cre­ate a space for black peo­ple to dis­cuss their prob­lems with­out be­ing judged.

“Grow­ing up in the town­ship, I was of the view that UWC, in par­tic­u­lar, was meant to serve the pur­pose of black­ness. It is one of the uni­ver­si­ties that built up an in­tel­lec­tual to re­spond to the na­tional ques­tion of black­ness.”

Born and raised in Nyanga town­ship in Cape Town, Non­ape is no stranger to the strug­gles of his com­mu­nity.

“Town­ships are hell in South Africa – we know that they were not cre­ated for hu­man be­ings, but they were cre­ated for sub­hu­man be­ings; cre­ated out of white­ness. For one to sur­vive in the town­ship is a mir­a­cle,” he said.

“I grew up with strong Chris­tian val­ues,” said Non­ape. “I have served in many youth min­istries. I am still a preacher, but I now preach us­ing black con­scious­ness and black rev­o­lu­tion­ary the­ol­ogy.”

For Non­ape, Chris­tian­ity and jus­tice can­not be sep­a­rated. He sees Chris­tian­ity’s pur­pose as that of cre­at­ing a just so­ci­ety.

When the #FeesMustFall move­ment started in 2015, Non­ape be­came one of its chief cam­paign­ers at UWC. He was at­tracted to the move­ment be­cause of its abil­ity to unite stu­dents and work­ers.

“#FeesMustFall el­e­vated the level of our think­ing as stu­dents and showed us that the strug­gle of the stu­dents is the same as the strug­gle of the work­ers,” said Non­ape.

He said the #FeesMustFall move­ment had been a long time com­ing and that it was not a wave in­sti­gated by stu­dents.

“It was a wave that came as a gift to us from the black stal­lion of revo­lu­tion for us to carry the ba­ton and ful­fil the mis­sion,” he said.

Non­ape’s trou­bles started when he was com­plet­ing a Bach­e­lor of Arts (hon­ours) in ed­u­ca­tion last year. It all started with a Face­book up­date at the height of the #FeesMustFall protest in Oc­to­ber. The post, ex­plained Non­ape, was a para­phrase of Frantz Fanon’s writ­ing that ap­peared in Quilombo news­pa­per as a metaphor for the voices of the op­pressed.

“My ar­gu­ment was this: The fire that has been oc­cur­ring at uni­ver­si­ties has not been given a voice. There is a voice within the fire. The fire can­not only be as­so­ci­ated with hooli­gan­ism; it must be seen as a voice that has been sup­pressed in South Africa in the post­demo­cratic era. That kind of voice is emerg­ing through the fire.”

Non­ape later learnt that Bab­ulele Bingwa, the sec­re­tary to par­lia­men­tary li­ai­son of­fi­cer at the de­part­ment of higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing, had opened a case of in­cit­ing vi­o­lence against him, and that UWC was us­ing the Face­book post to seek an in­ter­dict against the protests. He lost the case in court and was ex­pelled from UWC. Non­ape will ap­pear be­fore the UWC stu­dent dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee next week and hopes to be al­lowed back into the uni­ver­sity to start a master’s de­gree.

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