A new era in the post liberator age
By Tunicia Phillips
I met a 3rd year law student at the University of the Free State on Monday morning; who recommended a program similar to that of the AA for racist students. Her creative construct of its function made for a refreshing vox pop that reflected the increasingly proactive mind sets of people trying to find solutions to our race issues.
These people are young, some radical- and some are just spectators of a paradigm shift. I’m reminded of Tokyo Sexwale’s words at a somewhat private commemoration for the late Nelson Mandela when he died in 2013. Speaking to guest at Thebe Investment Corporation (founded by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Beyeres Naude and others), Sexwale said Madiba’s death would create a paradigm shift that distinctively separates the Mandela age and the post Mandela age. He questioned who would carry the Madiba light in the new age, or would front in his name. I’m inclined to believe Sexwale was referring to the once collective vision for South Africans, and the values the former president’s journey encompassed. Whatever my interpretation on Sexwale’s words that evening, it’s safe to say this country is watching an orchestrated attempt to speed up this 22 year old democracy where it matters.
UFS student Candice Belang said that people are nurtured into that mind set, and so they can’t help but feel a rejection for the other race. She believes prejudice and racist people may be willing to confront that inclination in a program for race relations. Would you attend a racist support group?
Tuesday had an eerie silence in the morning breeze, a black human chain surrounded the entrance of a building where participants of a peace and restoration walk had gathered inside. The SRC president had told me the night before that they (protesting students), would not be participating in ‘cosmetic transformation’. He insisted that violence would only harm the black students, who had suffered enough alleged police brutality during the previous week’s residence raid. Dressed in black and wearing militant blank stares, the demonstrators played out scenes of violence in silence and peace. The entrance to Callie Human was transformed into a theatre stage, with miming actors telling loud stories. Hands tied, imprisoned. Mouths closed, silenced.
When I had met with the SRC president, Lindokuhle Ntuli the previous evening, I was hoping the most natural conversation would find its way into my recorder. He reminded me that the same workers students were protesting for, were members of their communities, “by extension they are our mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles.” He also relived the moment that changed everything on that rugby field, when the true extent of the suppressed hate painted a red picture. When the same uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters and parents were kicked around like “dogs”. Ntuli recons matters of race issues can be mediated, so people start dealing with it. A confrontational, but constructive arrangement. A second Truth and Reconciliation Commission? It would appear that the SRC has opted to passively occupy space for their cause to avoid further security and police provocation.
This inevitable catapult in our transformation process will be written in history as a major development in the post Madiba age. It may not even mean that the orchestrators will necessarily be the ideal leaders of a new era, sometimes the revolutionary regime governs without a clear map and fails. It remains to be seen if the universities are going to bow and surrender, but the fight- in no matter what shape or form- will not lose momentum. A wheel has been set in motion, and traffic is moving fast.
Listen to the report here.