Prayers for Peace at the University of Pretoria
By Mpho Raphata
I wonder if prayers for peace are indeed what we need at this point, where our tertiary institutions are at boiling point. If it is not issues raised in Kwazulu Natal over outsourcing, or the issue about the cost of accommodation at UCT, students at Wits University are still calling for the tertiary education to be made free. They even go as far as raising funds for students who cannot afford tertiary education.
Let me know turn my eyes on the University of the North West Mahikeng campus where things took a turn for the worst last week. So much so that damage to varisty propery worth millions of rands saw the insitution shut its gates indefinitely. In fact this semester may be completely lost due to protest action.
When you look towards the country’s capital, Pretoria, students at the University of Pretoria are fighting a different fight. Their struggle is about language, they want Afrikaans to be done away with as a medium of instruction there.
A noble fight – that is exactly what the class of ‘76 were up in arms against. Forty years on – in a democratic South Africa we still have students protesting against oppression on the basis of language. Are we really reaping the rewards of what our forefathers were fighting for?
The Free State University we all know has had its fair share of racial tension, issues at UFS came way before Professor Jonathan Jansen was at the helm. Part of me wants to believe that Jansen was put there to try defuse racial tension that has existed at the institution since the dawn of democracy.
Now students want Professor Jansen to go. I wonder whether his departure will solve the issues that students have at UFS. I believe that that there needs to be dialogue at a provincial level about racism and social cohesion – that is just my two cents worth.
On the whole our tertiary institutions do really need to be transformed on different levels. This fight can not only be left to students to start and carry through. We must stop being a reactionary society – that waits for things to happen and then address issues.
I also have this to say – protest must happen, discontent must be expressed , but vandalism , breaking and burning things to be heard, takes us back – it’s time we changed the face of how our protest action looks – protest action that does not divert from the core issues….
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Kaya FM.