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Open Stellenbosch protest: “It’s like the remnants of apartheid live here”

On Wednesday, the Open Stellenbosch movement marched to the university’s administration building to demand the vice rector apologise for controversial comments on the university’s language policy. The students delivered a memorandum calling on the university to transform its language policy and foster inclusivity. RA’EESA PATHER spoke to students who’d joined the protest.

Sikhulekile DumaSikhulekile Duma, 20, spokesperson for Open Stellenbosch
When I arrived here I realised that there were many discriminatory practises in Stellenbosch and I didn’t feel comfortable because of the colour of my skin. When we tried to engage the university last year through different organisations to say that black students are suffering, the university wouldn’t listen to us, and if black students were abused, the university wouldn’t act. People are treated differently according to their skin colour. I cannot allow that in a democratic South Africa, we continue to have these issues. When the chance came to be involved in Open Stellenbosch, I took it, because we’ve identified a big problem. When we engage with management politely, they always say: “We will discuss it next year.” So, we’ve had to be more forceful in the way we ask, but we’ve never been violent in any way. Our demands are that all classes and signage at the university should be available in English, their translator devices must go, and all meetings and correspondence should be done in English.

Ludwe MtakatiLudwe Mtakati, 20, member of Open Stellenbosch
I support the movement because it’s for the equality of all students. Here at Stellenbosch we are treated as though we are a sub-species of human. They treat us as though because we’re black, we don’t have certain rights. Open Stellenbosch is movement with just a bunch of students. Anyone who believes in our values can join the movement: we have no leadership, because everyone who is a part of the movement, leads it. We don’t want hierarchy, but specifically, everyone has experienced these issues personally, so it would be unfair to select someone to represent us when they might not know your pain as deeply as you know it yourself. We had the speculation that the university leadership isn’t serious about transformation, and the vice rector’s comments hurt me. It just confirms that they still think of this university as an Afrikaans university, and he said it twice which means he is quite sure of what he’s saying and he’s all for not transforming.

Lucy DouglasLucy Douglas, 20, member of Open Stellenbosch’s communication committee
I support transformation, I support justice, and I support equality – that’s why I’m here. The university’s institutional racism, the exclusionary methods used to “other” black students and non-Afrikaans speakers needs to stop. I’m guessing most of the students who disagree with the movement are white students and from them I would want to know why they are so afraid of change. They need to check their privilege. As a white student, I will never understand black pain, but by acknowledging my own privilege, there’s a way forward for change. My life here as a white student is much easier and I don’t have to be part of this movement, but living on campus, going to university here and being among people with such conservative and closed-minded views has sunk me into such a depression that I don’t see the humanity. It’s like the remnants of apartheid live here.

Mwabisa MakaluzaMwabisa Makaluza, 28, member of Open Stellenbosch
Things have not changed, the lived experiences of students are still the same and we are bringing these concerns to management. I’ve been on campus for eight years, and walking in and seeing the plaque of Hendrik Verwoerd has always felt really damaging. Having been taught in Afrikaans, and still being taught in Afrikaans, going to class and not understanding – these have all been part of how Stellenbosch has excluded me as a black student. My home language is isiXhosa. It’s been struggle upon struggle to get to where I am as a PhD student. I’ve had to walk around res and ask people to translate for me. It’s good that the management is removing the plaque of Verwoerd, but we, as Open Stellenbosch, are calling for full transformation.

Eva KimaniEva Kimani, 21, Open Stellenbosch supporter
Every time we ask management to listen to us, they give us statistics on what they are doing instead of actually listening to us. I wouldn’t be as frustrated as I am if they were doing something. I’m an international student from Kenya. Before I came here, I remember calling the university and asking them if I would have a problem when I came here with the language. They told me no – my course, BComm management science, is supposed to have separate Afrikaans and English classes. First year was okay: I didn’t even know I was in an Afrikaans university – it was fine. Second year was fine. Third year, first day of the semester, I’m hearing Afrikaans, and there was no way I was going to learn Afrikaans fast enough to be able to understand. I usually perform very well, but my marks dropped by half. It’s a real thing and it’s not only me – it’s an experience many students have.

* Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity. All images by Ra’eesa Pather.

About Raeesa Pather

Raeesa Pather
Ra'eesa Pather has written on race, politics, gender, and arts and culture. She also dabbles in photography.




    Deliberate, forced social re-engineering, intervention, oppression, integration and manipulation in the name of “transformation” is a VIOLATION of the Constitution!

    The “Unity” trick:
    Coercing & forcing nations, tribes, cultures, races, communities into one large centrist communist state, to trick people into giving up their individual identity, culture, tradition and rights.

    The Rainbow Nation Weapons of Mass Destruction:
    – Manipulation of Voting & Municipal Boundaries.
    – Merging of Voting & Municipal Wards to increase central power bases and dilute minorities / opposition vote.
    – “Transformation”: Enforced integration and racemixing.
    – Cadre Deployment: Employing, contracting and rewarding ANC loyal members with taxpayers money.
    – Black Economic Empowerment: Forcing whites out of the work, labour, education and business with racist laws.
    – Politicising Civil Service: Using unions to hold the country hostage for political, racial and financial gain
    – “Representivity”: Human trafficking and population control by resettling black people from rural areas into other areas with a smaller black demographic.

    Multi-culturalism CAUSES Racism:

    Forced Integration (Multi-culturalism) is just as evil as Forced Segregation (Apartheid)

    Multiculturalism is being enforced through deceit, brainwashing, media manipulation, insult, overt and covert political correctness and mass immigration and asylum.

    It is unnatural to force people together, just as it is to keep them apart.

    Only when people are allowed to live, work and associate FREELY, together OR apart as they choose, without castigation, reproach or insult, will racism finally stop. LET PEOPLE BE FREE

    Open Borders are a tool for World Domination!
    Marxism is a world Supremacist ideology! Nationalists just want to rule their own country, not the whole world, like the Left Wing do.
    Multinational Nations are an incubator for leftist world supremacy…

    Why are Liberals, Leftists, “Democrats” and Marxists so quick to point the Supremacist finger? They are the TRUE Supremacists!

    The days of easy black advantage with a race card are over… you have been found out.
    Two days ago all the big communists in London resigned… the political wind won’t be blowing in your favour for long so your unfair racist and biased playing field will end soon.

  2. What kind of a fool goes to a University that does not speak their own language? Oh, yes, a cultural terrorist. Black Supremacist. Who paid these people to go there and cause trouble? Seems like some of the millions Amercian leftists dollars from the Clinton foundation are being used to stir trouble???

  3. I wish to encourage those in the open Stellnbosch campaign. Press on a change will come. it may be for long but not foreve. I am English from England, England had a torrid past with the black slave trade but now it is a open and free society where anyone can go and live freely. I have many good white black and Asian friends and have had to welcome whites and Asian into my family due to the marriage choices of my children. In the UK we live well together as God intended. So press on your struggle is for the best.
    I have noticed most of the comments posted are negative. I assure those of us who are from a free society think that such comments come from small minded, insular bigots who sound mad.

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