Oth­er­ing is apartheid

Mail & Guardian - - Comment & Analysis -

It’s hard to imag­ine what it must be like to be a pupil at the Rusten­burg Girls’ Ju­nior School in Cape Town’s Ron­de­bosch. The teach­ers are white, most of pupils are white and the dom­i­nant cul­ture is (un­sur­pris­ingly) white.

Since the Mail & Guardian first drew at­ten­tion to the case of the school’s first black teacher (who is not an isiXhosa teacher), Nozipho Mthembu, who has ac­cused the in­sti­tu­tion of con­struc­tive dis­missal, it has placed the sub­ur­ban for­mer model C school firmly in the spot­light, with one pupil ask­ing: “Are black teach­ers real teach­ers?”

A let­ter from black women, alumni of the school, of­fers an in­sight into what it means to be caught up in that bub­ble. “The black women signed to this let­ter learnt early on that be­com­ing more ‘white’ in Rusten­burg — by adapt­ing how we spoke, what we shared of our home lives, what our par­ents could af­ford and how we pre­sented our­selves — was an im­por­tant tool in fit­ting in, get­ting ahead and in se­cur­ing recog­ni­tion for our abil­i­ties. At a fun­da­men­tal level, be­ing a black stu­dent meant be­ing ‘other’.”

This heart­felt, de­spair­ing call for recog­ni­tion, to abol­ish the oth­er­ing of chil­dren, yes chil­dren, must surely strike home with the school gov­ern­ing body, par­ents, teach­ers and the Western Cape ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment who, de­spite their mouthing of the words “trans­for­ma­tion”, “com­mit­ted” and “di­ver­sity”, recog­nise their com­plic­ity in per­pet­u­at­ing di­vi­sions, oth­er­wise known in a dif­fer­ent lan­guage as apartheid.

The ini­tia­tive by Par­ents for Change, com­pris­ing just 24 black and white par­ents at the school, is heart­en­ing and re­minds us that the change most of us yearn for is some­thing that we should not stop fight­ing for.

That is, if you are ex­posed to the rest of South Africa and pur­pose­fully en­gage with this beau­ti­ful, some­times mad­den­ing, but ul­ti­mately en­light­en­ing and en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that is your coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.