June 21, 2017

Masixole Mlandu on the university in south africa


June 20, 2017


Please read this description of the student rebellion of 1968 with FeesMustFall in mind.


Hearing any participant or eyewitness of the rebellion of young people in Paris in May 1968 is an experience that puts our ability to judge things objectively to the test. In all the accounts I have heard there is one surprising note: the tone of the revolt, at once passionate and disinterested, as if action had been confused with representation: it was like a mutiny that turned into a Festival and a political discussion that turned into a ceremony; epic theater and at the same time public confession.

The secret of the fascination that this movement exercised on all those (including the spectators) who were present at its demonstrations lay in its attempt to unite politics, art, and eroticism. There was a fusion of private and collective passion, a continuous ebb and flow between the marvelous and the everyday, the lived act as an aesthetic representation, a conjunction of action and its celebration.
It was a true conversion: not only a change of ideas but of sensibility; more than a change of being, it was a return to being, a social and psychic revelation that for a few days broadened the limits of reality and extended the realm of the possible.

It was a return to the source, to the principle of principles: being oneself by being with everyone. It was a discovery of the power of language: my words are yours; speaking with you is speaking with myself.

It was a reappearance of everything (communion, transfiguration, the transformation of water into wine and of words into a body) that religions claim as their own though it is anterior to them and constitutes the other dimension of man, his other half and his lost kingdom – man perpetually expelled and torn away from time: in search of another time, a prohibited, inaccessible time: the present moment.
Not the eternity of religions but the incandescence of the instant: a consummation and an abolition of dates.
What is the other way to enter such a present? André Breton once spoke of the possibility of incoporating an extra-religious sense of the sacred, made up of the triangle of love, poetry, and rebellion, into modern life. This sacred cannot emerge from anything but the depths of a collective experience. Society must manifest it, incarnate it, live it, and thus live and consume itself. Revolt as the path to Illumination. Here and now: a leap to the other shore.

May 3, 2017



“The modern proletarian class does not carry out its struggle according to a plan set out in some book or theory; the modern workers’ struggle is a part of history, a part of social progress, and in the middle of history, in the middle of progress, in the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight… That’s exactly what is laudable about it, that’s exactly why this colossal piece of culture, within the modern workers’ movement, is epoch-defining: that the great masses of the working people first forge from their own consciousness, from their own belief, and even from their own understanding the weapons of their own liberation.” – Rosa Luxembourg

This essay explores the principles and ideologies embedded in the Fallism or the Fallist Movement in relationship to the discourse on transformation in South Africa. It examines how the continuities between apartheid and post\neo-apartheid realities shape the political consciousness, ideological perspectives and activism of the Fallism generation. From this basis the essay explains the emergence of Fallism in South Africa through the logic and notion of historical experiences- historical consciousness, material conditions – social consciousness, structure – agency nexus. The essay further examines the interplay between spontaneity and organization in the context of Fallism, applying Rosa Luxemburg’s notion of the Dialectics of Spontaneity and Organization. It concludes by enlisting Walter Benjamin’s theory of Traditions of the Oppressed to argue that Fallism represents both continuity and discontinuity of the traditions of the historic liberation movements and emergent Social Movements in South Africa.

Journalist Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya asserts that the name Fallism is derived from the fact that the common thread in the campaigns and movements concerned is the call or demand that something or someone must fall. This essay concentrates on the Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall, with some reference to Outsourcing Must Fall Movements. The decision to focus on these ‘movements’ is influenced by the explicit interconnectness of the issues they deal with. The three movements\campaigns operate within a shared ‘socio-geographic’ community and site of struggle (Higher Education\ Campus) and all deal with issues directly and indirectly related to conditions and sense of alienation & de-humanization, marginalization & exclusion, discrimination & exploitation in a space in which the protagonists are subjected to a peripheral and subaltern existence. These sections of Fallism also have a shared opposition to neoliberal capitalist exploitation and ‘new imperialism’ and a devotion to the theme of de-commodification, de-coloniality, intersectionality, solidarity and anti-sectarianism in their struggles.

The Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall Movements are particularly overt in their non-partisan\ non-alignment stance in relation to political parties and social movements and in their declaration of their unifying philosophical and ideological frame of reference as Black Consciousness, Pan Africanism, Black Feminism and Queer politics. The campaign for the resignation of President JG Zuma pursued under the slogan ‘Zuma Must Fall’ is not included in this essay particularly because of its lack of the attributes shared by these three segments of Fallism. While the campaigns\movements that are the focus of this essay continue to exist as Rhodes Must Fall, Fees Must Fall and Outsourcing Must Fall, the Zuma Must Fall initiative seem to have found its home, expression, platform and movement in Save South Africa. In their intellectual\ ideological\political homilies, speechifying, and symbolisms the three ‘movements’ are explicit that the issues they raise are a mobilization platform and point of entry in their struggle against racism, classism, sexism, patriarchy, neoliberalism and new imperialism, and their struggle for de-commodification of labor and education, and for de-colonialisation at all levels of society and the state.

Implicit in their discourse is a critique of the kind of South Africa they don’t want and general articulation of the kind of Azania they dream of or at least the principles around which it should be constructed. One cannot say the same of the campaign for Jacob Zuma to step down as the president of South Africa. Beyond its key theme of protection of constitutionalism and the rule of law, it does not project any unifying philosophical and ideological worldview and vision of the social system it envisages. In his emphasis of the need for people struggling against injustice to start imagining how they will live afterwards, Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya raises the concern that he has never heard what those behind the Zuma Must Fall initiative think must happen thereafter. It is for the reasons outlined here, that the Zuma Must Fall is not included in this appraisal of the Fallist Movements. Thus, for the purpose of this essay Fallism shall refer to movements who use the strategy of focusing on one key symbol, issue or figure as a rallying and mobilizing point to advance an ideological and political program directed towards the fall of structures of oppression, exploitation, discrimination, disenfranchisement, exclusion, powerlessness, based on race, class, gender and other forms of social exclusion.

Rhodes Must Fall: Engaging the colonial legacy and the continuities of racial-capitalism in post\neo-apartheid SA

“We need history, but our need for it differs from that of the jaded idlers in the garden of knowledge.”- Nietzsche, On the Advantages and Disadvantages of History for Life

On March 9, 2015 students at University of Cape Town rose up in a protest against a statue at the University of Cape Town (UCT) that commemorates Cecil Rhodes. The protest movement grew bigger to focus on the wider issues represented by the alienating presence of the arch-imperialist’s statue at the university. The character of the movement is aptly captured by the UCT chapter’s definition of itself as “a collective movement of students and staff members mobilizing for direct action against the reality of institutional racism at the University of Cape Town.” The statue of Cecil John Rhodes was ultimately removed on 9 April 2015, following a vote of the UCT Council on 8 April 2015 but the RMF lives beyond the fall of the statue and has culminated into a wider movement to “decolonize” education across South Africa. The Rhodes Must Fall (RMF emerged as an expression of the discontent and rage of Black students and Black staff at University of Cape Town (UCT) in response to the alienating colonial architecture, euro-centric culture of the university and a fee structure that is completely hostile and unsympathetic to the realities and experiences of Black people. The collective experience of racial profiling, financial and academic exclusion and general alienation in a high education institution with Euro-centric ethos found motif in the struggle against the symbolic representation of the colonial legacy, i.e the statue of the arch-colonial racist – Cecil John Rhodes. However the issues that mobilized the movement are deeper and bigger that a protest against the statue. At the core of these issues is the history of the universities’ indifference to Black students feeling of being alienated by its euro-centric education practices and lilly-white culture, its downplaying of the students’ struggle with exorbitant fees and its apathetic response to incidents of rape and violence against women on campus. It is not a wonder that students in other universities immediately connected to the issues raised by the campaign that initially started at UCT and that within a short space of time Rhodes Must Fall became a movement, with participation by university students across the country. Raeesa Pather observes response from some UCT students to the Rhodes Must Fall movement has revealed the day-to-day racism that slips under the campus radar. The students she interviewed shared stories and experiences of white students referring to RMF students as “monkeys” and “kaffirs” or “savages” who “destroy everything they touch” on social media; and of black staff and students frequently reduced to tears by the racism they encounter from their peers. Recognition of the relationship between the valorization and denigration of the black body, the sexualization and objectification of the female body, the vulgarization and censure of the queer body and the commodification and exploitation of the body of the worker, and the ridicule and belittling of disabled bodies, led the activists of Rhodes Must Fall and later Fees Must Fall and Outsourcing Must Fall to intersectionality.

The practical reality of the connection between the social structures that oppress, exploits, de-humanizes and discriminates against Black people, women, the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Intersex (GLBTI) community, workers and disabled people raised awareness of the interconnection between racism, capitalism, patriarchy, homophobia, ableism etc. Black students’ reflections on and awareness of the broader social, political, economic and cultural environment that shape their marginal and peripheral existence at the lilly-white institution made them to ponder on the continuities between pre and post-1994 South Africa. Ironically, it is precisely the fact that a significant number of the current generation of students falls under the category of youths born after 1994 that raised their keen awareness of the continuities between the social and power relations under in the settler-colonial and racial-capitalist set-up and in the post\neo-colonial and liberal –capitalist dispensation. The Black students realization of the systemic, structural and institutional nature of these continuities made them recognize that the contrast between the born-free label given to them and their conditions and feeling of being un-free in the higher education and broader social environment is the result of the untransformed nature of the education system and the social system within which the education system functions.

True to the Marxian notion of the nexus between material realities and social conditions and historical and social consciousness, the harsh material reality of being the other in a university with a history of being a white university in a colonial town raised the Black students’ social and historical consciousness. On the other hand, the material and social reality of being beneficiaries of privilege accrued from social stratification based on race, class and gender made a sizable number of conscientious white students and academics find common cause with Black students in their struggle against neo-colonialism, while a significant number of white students and academics held on to the comforts and privilege and saw the Rhodes Must Fall Movement as an unnecessary disruption. The racist mindset of some of the White academics is reflected by an academic at one historically white university who rebuffed the concern that the dominance of texts by White Anglo-Saxon writers in books prescribed in the English literature department alienated Black students as simply a matter of Black students being lazy.

The students’ recognition of the complementarity between the education system and the socio-political-economic system is reflected in their deliberate adoption of Black Consciousness, Pan Africanism, Queer Politics and Black Feminism as their philosophical and ideological frame of reference and their articulation of the intersection between race, class and gender. This finds resonant expression in the assertion by Kealeboga Ramaru, a student in RMF student that: “When we say ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ we mean that patriarchy must fall, that white supremacy must fall, that all systematic oppression based on any power relations of difference must be destroyed at all costs”.

After the fall of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes the students continued to operate under the name Rhodes Must Fall, interpreting the name as symbolizing the fall of systematic oppression accrued from colonialism. The students’ observations that the two decades of transformation being the catchphrase at the centre of government policies and public discourse have brought no meaningful change realized that social, political, economic and educational structures are made un-transformable by the colonial and neo-colonial base, foundation, parameters, conventions and protocols upon which they are rooted. Therefore students moved away from a simple call for transformation to a call for the de-colonialisation of universities to create a campus environment, university culture and education practices that embracing rather than alienating of the reality of being black and female and working-class in the world.

This necessitates institutional codes and practices, epistemology and pedagogy rooted in the historical-material realities of South Africa instead of jettisoning and rebuffing the historical, cultural, social and political realities of South Africa and Africa. Thus, the immediate practical program of the movement constituted of three major practical demands \proposals, that is, (1)the university must hire more Black academics, (2) the university must stop outsourcing workers, and (3) the university must develop an Afro-centric curriculum. These demands are centered on the theme of de-coloniality but also express the idea of Black Solidarity and the principle of Black-Worker Students Solidarity which reflect the students’ awareness that their education issues are inseparable from broader societal issues and the specific experiences of the broader Black community and the working-class. In as far as organizational form and organizational culture is concerned Rhodes Must Fall from the inception asserted the principles students’ self-organization around common issues and collective activity involving all students organizations and students from various social and political backgrounds, without affiliation to a specific political party and without a rigid organizational structure or hierarchy. While committing to stay student-centric and non-partisan, the movement accepts support and advice of elders and activists from organized civil society, labor, social and political movements.

The organized student formations affiliated to political parties like Pan African Students Movement, EFF students and South African Students Congress (SASCO) are active in the movement. This raises concerns and challenges of struggles and contestations for political hegemony of the movement among the different political and ideological currents. This is also complicated by the diversity of the entire student body. The movement seeks to mediate this diversity through intersectional politics that are inclusive of all its members. The movement has therefore positioned itself as a place of all people in agreement with the themes and objectives of de-coloniality and intersectionality, including white people. However, the movement is clear and uncompromising that de-colonialisation of higher education institutions shall be led by Black students. The perception that universities like Rhodes and UCT are colonial fortresses also influences the students’ confrontational and non-trusting attitude towards university administration.

This attitude was expressed well by Kealeboga Ramuru’s on the occasion of the falling of the statue Cecil John Rhodes:

“We must at no point forget that management is our colonial administrators, and their removal of the statue is merely an attempt to placate us and be perceived as sympathetic….Our freedom cannot be given to us – we must take it.”

The movement is equally unapologetic choice of confrontational and transgressive methods and tactics. It offended the liberal sensitivities of many people with its defense of Chumani Maxwele’s poo protest , its exclusion of white students from certain for a and its defense of PASMA’s chanting of the “One settler, one bullet” slogan at the movements gatherings at UCT. Members of the Rhodes Must Fall defense of the slogan are that the slogan is a rallying call to protest and tackle colonialism at the universities.

Fees Must Fall & Outsourcing Must Fall: The Dialectics of Spontaneity and Organization

The principles of de-commodification, de-coloniality and intersectionality born out of Rhodes Must Fall were later adopted and updated by the Fees Must Fall Movement which emerged in mid-October 2015. The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s research-study report titled ‘#Hashtag: An analysis of the Fees Must Fall Movement at South African Universities’, found that the issues of decolonization and transformation were central themes promoted by those involved in the protests. This confirms the link between the philosophical and ideological framework of RMF and FMF as informed by the commonness of their political terrain and the practical realities that brought them into existence. Fees Must Fall began in mid-October 2015 in response to an increase in fees at South African universities. The students soon found common course with the workers at the university who are subjected to precarious labor in the form of casualization and outsourcing. The protests started at the University of Witwatersrand and spread to the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University. The protests received sympathy from various sections of South African society and elicited international solidarity. A Cape Town daily newspaper, The Cape Argus, invited student co-editors to edit the day’s edition of the newspaper. Articles were written, commissioned and edited by the students involved in FMF. On 23 October 2015, a group of around 200 students gathered at Trafalgar Square the United Kingdom in front of South Africa House to show support of protesting students in South Africa. On the morning of the same day university vice chancellors and student representatives met with President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria to negotiate a way forward. Whilst they were meeting, a large group of protesting students assembled outside the Union Buildings to await Zuma’s response. A small group turned violent, setting fire to a portable toilet and breaking down fences. The police responded with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets. Another group of students called for restraint and discipline, stressing it was a peaceful protest. Later in the day, after about 3pm, President Zuma announced from within the Union Buildings that there would be no increase in university fees in 2015.

The announcement was welcomed by the students as a victory and brought a stop to the Fees Must Fall protests. The 2015 protests led to the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training. In 2016 the students resumed the protests in response to the announcement by the Minister of Higher Education of fee increases capped at 8% for 2017, with each institution given the freedom to decide by how much their tuition would increase. The 2016 protests saw the movement lose momentum, due to alleged sabotage by the Progressive Youth Alliance – which is aligned to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and internal divisions. The alleged infiltration by PYA and the apparent difficulty experienced by Fees Must Fall Movement to deal with the tensions emanating out of contesting political and sectional interests and the relatively ad hoc nature of its programs have raised issues about the weaknesses of Fallism, particularly is spontaneous character and apparent aversion to conventional organizational arrangements.

An extensive research on the strengths and weaknesses, victories and successes Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movements is required for a more objective appraisal of Fallism. A brief examination of these strength’s and weakness will suffice for this essay. In the main the key strength of Fallism is its insistence of non-partisan student-centered action, Black student leadership, student-worker-community solidarity and intersectionality. This helps to reignite the unity-in-action coalition-building, movement-building traditions of the 70s and 80s that facilitated for civic, labor, political and community organizations and people of all social backgrounds to work together against apartheid. The respect for diversity and plurality and keen awareness of the plight of excluded and discriminated sectors of society made RMF and FMF a place where the gender and sexuality issues and the feminist and queer voices found a platform more than ever before in the history of student struggles. Included in the strengths is the ability to elicit international solidarity, as was the case with the liberation movement in its struggle against apartheid-capitalism. Within a short period of time the call for de-colonizing universities had crossed the borders of South Africa, with progressives at Oxford University up in campaigns for the removal of the statue of Rhodes on their campus just after the protests have spread throughout South Africa. The brought public focuses – locally and globally – to concerns that have been there but waiting for vociferous articulation and vigorous action. The most important of these concerns is the reversals and replacement of multi-culturalism and sensitivity to the distinct needs and demands of historically oppressed and marginalised communities by rising fascism, market fundamentalism and empire politics. This particularly relate to the rampant “institutional racism” in the world and more insidious and crude in South Africa. Amit Chaudhuri’s definition of institutional racism as the resurrection of the colonial order, which was by no means managed exclusively by racist individuals, but by people who believed that a skewed system was normal is more relevant in the South African situation. The Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movement amplified and exposed this conception of institutional or systemic or structural racism with exposure of how some of the institutions that pride themselves of centers of progressive liberal, social democratic and leftist traditions were reeking with racist attitudes and practices.

The movement forced the state and society to explore for underlying reasons behind question such as: why are there so few black professors in South Africa? Why are there so few Black African South African post-graduates at South African institutions? Why do Black students feel so alienated at universities and why are female students so unsafe at the universities? Why South African students have turned on their parents’ generation? Most importantly, the Fallist movements have helped South African’s to reflect on the extent to damages of overzealous obsession with reconciliation and nation-building without bold confrontation the structures that produces and entrench racism, classism, sexism and related forms of discrimination. It exposed the failures of the country to deal honestly and decisively with the issues of redress, restitution, restoration, reparation, redistribution and reconstruction as the sine quo non for genuine reconciliation and sustainable nation-building. It also highlighted the relationship between the dominant values within the institutions and broader society and the power and social relations that are shaped by skewed patterns of ownership and control of the economy. The immediate victories of these Fallist movements include:

• the fall of the statue of John Rhodes at UCT,
• the setting up of the commission,
• the government’s increase of the amount budgeted for higher education by R17-billion over 3 years,
• government’s commitment ton increase subsidies to universities by 10.9% a year,
• the increased the use of blended learning by South African universities to assist non-protesting students complete their courses,
• free education returned to the centre of policy debates in the country, with the then minister of Finance, Pravin Gordon pronouncing that on 25 August 2015 that that if corruption could be addressed, South Africa could afford to cover university fees for students from poor backgrounds,
• the theme of de-colonialization became more pronounced in the transformation discourse in South Africa
• the Outsourcing Must Fall campaign born out of the Fees Must Fall Movement put a spotlight on the plight of workers who are in precarious labour at universities and spread to other sectors in the economy where workers are subjected to precarious labor and unfavorable conditions of employment
• outsourcing Must Fall led to UCT announcing that hundreds of previously contracted will be insourced from July 2016
• at the University of Free State workers won a 100% pay rise as part of the in-sourcing agreement with management, with the Socialist Youth Movement (WASP’s youth wing) playing a leading role.

Another gain for the movement was the overwhelming support for its cause from civil society. The greatest weaknesses of the movement is the inability to keep the momentum of advocacy and activism for the overall de-colonialized for free and de-colonized education going beyond the protests in response to specific issues. After the fall of the statue the Rhodes Must Fall activities subsided and its voice in the public discourse faded somewhat. Similarly, the Fees Must Fall seems to be more active and vocal at the time of registration and protests against financial exclusion. Whatever work these organizations do in between the protests is not out there in the public domain. The loose character of the movement reduces its capacity to plan ahead for eventualities such as the arrests of its members and fight back. The lack of structure and codes of operation also reduces the capacity of the movement to defend its activities and independence in situations where established and resources organizations engage in acts aimed at deviating the agenda and program of the movement or hijacking it. The spontaneity of the movement’s its actions and its seeming aversion to organization and structure also denies it the ability to develop a protracted and sustained political program. It also means not all people who participate in its programs and activities are oriented or subscribe to its values such as non-discrimination and respect for diversity. This result to situations that it can’t effectively reign on those who act in contrast to its principles such as misogynist and homophobic elements who may be found in the student movement who may display these tendencies at the protests and rallies of the movement. The movements also seem to lack the capacity to protect its protests from infiltration and to reign on criminal elements and political agents deployed to take focus away from the essence and subject of their struggle. Some form of organizational structure with a leadership collective, foundational documents, program of action and code of practice would be helpful for the movement to avoid the situation whereby it is not in control of who can speak and act on its name and what the centre of authority is with regard to its activities and programs. A case in point is made of how, while the FMF insist on not having an organized leadership structure, the media ordained Nompendulo Mkatshwa the face of the 2015 Fees Must Fall, with t Destiny Magazine portraying her as the face of Fees Must Fall. Some people on twitter asked why the Magazine chose to portray Mkatshwa as the face of FMF ahead of Wits SRC president Shaeera Kalla who was effectively the one leading Mkatshwa and questioned not only why the magazine put a face to the movement but also why it specifically chose the picture in which Mkatshwa wore an ANC scarf. Destiny Magazine claimed that the magazine did ask Mkatshwa to wear a more “neutral” scarf, but she refused. It is difficult to dismiss the suggestion that Mkatshwa’s refusal to wear a more neutral scarf was a political decision and action aimed at providing mileage for SASCO and at showing that influence of the congress movement permeates everywhere in society. Similarly it is difficult not to find the decision of the media to refer to Mcebo Dlamini as the leader of the Fees Must Fall Movement as part of a ploy to impose a person from within the congress movement as the voice and face of Fees Must Fall. This imposition of Mkatshwa and Mcebo as the face and voice of FMF as well as the alleged hijack of the march that was meant to go to Luthuli House by PYA created tensions and division.

In the context of a loose movement it becomes more difficult to quell in a manner that does not polarize the movement. The divisions within student leadership somehow, weaken their case, throttle their fighting capacity and disarm them from engaging a protracted uninterrupted struggle for de-colonialisation. It makes it difficult for them to develop a common platform on which they can continuously engage in broader public discourse, bringing in their de-coloniality project to debates on economic freedom and related issues such as land redistribution and radical economic transformation. Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya articulates the problematic of focusing energies on immediate gains without reflecting on long-term institutional, policy, strategy and programmatic issues when he observes:

“I get the sense that most of the energy (of the Fallists) is spent on dealing with the present problem without adequately preparing for life after the problem has been solved, as if they do not believe their campaign will bear fruit……We only need to look to our recent past to see how struggles hinged on being opposed to something, but not necessarily pro another thing, end up.”

A Black Consciousness elder who works closely with the RMF mentions that the members of the movement say their rationale for not having a leadership structure is to avoid harassment. This reason is not plausible enough because whether a resistance to oppression and injustice takes a completely spontaneous nature, organized, unorganized or semi-organized forms, whether there is a leadership collective or not, the system will make attempts to crush it. The harassment of individuals is unavoidable, and so is infiltration and attempts to co-opt the movement of a section thereof. It is also important to note that the absence of a centrally coordinated program of action, the political education , mobilizing and activism initiatives become disjointed and open to capture by organizations or political forces that are dominant at a particular university. On the other hand the relatively loose and spontaneous character of the movement can be useful in protecting it from the hierarchical, authoritarian and dogmatic conventions that often stunts creativity and plurality of perspectives within traditional political parties and social movements. An awareness of the gaps and advantages in both spontaneity and organization could allow for a dynamic conversation between older activists who are schooled in the lore and tactics of organization and the younger generation with more inventive maneuvers and channels characteristic of current waves of popular uprisings. However the obstacle to this seems to be skepticism towards organization on the part of the Fallism and contempt for spontaneity on the part of the traditional left and radicals. While the Fallist movement seems to be overly sensitive of the shortfalls of organization and hierarchy\structure and overzealous in its faith in spontaneity, the old generation of activists seem to be overly dismissive of the potency of spontaneity and romantic of the uses of organization. This perception of a rigid dichotomy or separation between spontaneity and organization is not helpful. Perhaps the best way forward for the moment should be seeing spontaneity and organization as complimentary rather than incompatible.

This will allow for organic responses to immediate situations but also building organizational and leadership capacity and political and ideological development that allow the movement to make certain interventions that utilize the spontaneous actions to build capacity for sustained and protracted struggle. This approach is in line with Rosa Luxembourg argument that spontaneity and organization are not separable or separate activities, but different moments of one political process. Luxembourg defines “spontaneity” is a grass roots approach to organizing a party-oriented class struggle. Believing that spontaneity is the elementary moment from which the class struggle evolves to a higher level of organization, Luxembourg argued that one cannot exist without the other. She advocated that organization mediates spontaneity; and spontaneous struggles provide a momentum and environment for organization. This idea that organization must mediate spontaneous action becomes more important in the face current experiences of how the organic uprisings in the Middle-East and Northern Africa – so-called Arab Spring – either quickly dissipated or were captured by interests that had nothing to do with revolution precisely because of a lack on ideological agenda and political program. The manner in which the 2016 wave of Fees Must Fall protests were redirected by the PYA also highlights the need for organization to mediate spontaneity. On the other hand, the manner in which organizational arrangements and highly centralized hierarchical structures of authority and processes of decision-making are used in traditional political movements to put a squeeze on dissent and entrench gate-keeping and empire-building tendencies exemplifies the deficit of organization.

The many examples of how organizational traditions are sometimes at variance with current material realities and contemporary experiences of the people prove the theoretic correctness of Rosa Luxembourg’s proposition that organization should be informed by the daily struggles and immediate organic actions of the masses as they spontaneously engage with the issues facing them. A nuanced application of the Dialectic of Organization and Spontaneity, rooted to the dynamics of South Africa, could be useful for Fallism and conventional political, civic, social, community and labor organizations. It can enable them to explore and engage in a dynamic process of fusion of spontaneous action and anarchist traditions with organizations and deliberate planning. This would allow for spontaneous action to benefit from the insights and expertise of organization, and for organization to draw strength and build from the space and conditions created by spontaneous struggles.

Conclusions: Continuity and discontinuity of SA liberation struggle politics in Fallism

‘The continuum of history is the one of the oppressors. Whereas the idea [Vorstellung] of the continuum levels everything to the ground, the idea [Vorstellung] of the discontinuum is the foundation of real tradition.’ — Walter Benjamin

The Fallist anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles – and the language that developed out of the struggles – went beyond the class and gender perspectives of social and power relations. Fallism traced the roots of political oppression, economic exploitation and social denigration of Black people in South Africa to colonialism and imperialism.

Consequently it identified racism and white supremacism as the ideology employed in service of capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. Thus, Fallism re-ignited Pan Africanist, Black Consciousness and Black Feminist traditions and re-located the perspectives Du Bois, Garvey, Cessaire, Sengor and Lumumba; Nkrumah, Sobukwe; Cabral, Malcolm X, Kwame Toure (Stockely Carmichael) Biko, Sankara, , Ivan Van Sertima, Assata Shakur, Bella Hooks at the centre of current struggles and contemporary policy debates on transformation academia and broader society.

It also heightened students and youths students’ interest in and interaction with current Pan Africana philosophies and Black intellectual traditions such as the Afro-centricity of Molefi Kete Asante and Afro-Pessimism of Frank Wiltherson. Consequently, Fallism motivated students, youths and workers to fuse the language, culture and images of the liberation movement traditions and with contemporary modes and new chic & cheeky avenues and idiomatic expression of struggle. In so doing, Fallism simultaneously reclaims and appraises the traditions of struggle and messes up, unsettles, disrupts and discontinues these traditions to create forms of politics and activism that speaks to the turbulence and hurly-burly of the time\s and place\s and spaces they find themselves in. It plays James Brown’s “Shout it aloud: “I am Black & Proud!” and the BCM’s “Black is Beautiful” at high voltage to express the hope and ideal of Blackness freed of White Supremacism and Black inferiority\docility complex. At the same time it irrepressibly screams that “Blackness is an excrement of Whiteness” , “Blackness is death” in recognition of the wretchedness of Black bodies and desolation in an extremely anti-Black world where Blackness is not a mere cultural identity, but a position of accumulation and fungibility (Saidiya Hartman)….a condition—or relation—of ontological death.

To a mind that is longing and romantic about the past ways activism and the struggle at the expense of being cynical of everything in new ones, Fallism urinates on the graves of heroes. To a mind that is puffed-up and quixotic about the present modes of activism and forms of struggle at the price of making modernity, avant-gardism or newness the creator of everything, Fallism is the all-mighty new and fresh beginning. What we are referring to here are two extreme paradigms of engaging with a ‘new’ movement\moment like Fallism. On one extreme is the viewpoint of projecting a particular moment\movement as a momentous, earth-shattering tumultuous big moment of complete rupture that disrupts and ends histories and traditions and begin a brand-new new history and creates spanking new traditions. The problem with the romantic view of any particular movement\moment in history as the new big thing or as the end and beginning of history is that it buries the histories and traditions of the oppressed in the name of creating a new philosophy and culture of liberation. It therefore presents history and philosophy, and tradition and progress as binary opposites. This gives the so-called new person the pomposity that makes him to strut around like he is the first person to see the world as it is. It therefore denies the new movement the wisdom that philosophy derives from history and the sensitivity and discernment that progress develops from tradition. This is typified by the tendency to think of concepts such as de-coloniality, intersectionality, and anti-sectarianism and confrontational and transgressive politics as new inventions of Fallism, rather than principles and practices born out of the concrete and tangible historical and material realities within whose womb the agency, activism and struggle of the Fallist generation is born. This framework prohibits the old generation connection and intimacy to the language and struggle of the new generation and to dismiss it as the folly of the young.

It also disallows the young generation the perception and insight to realize how their idiomatic and practical expression of struggle is indebted to the history and traditions of the struggle of the old. On the other extreme is the framework that ascribes everything to tradition and therefore see the new movements\moments as simply a continuance of the old. This framework perceives the concepts and practices of new movements as simply versions and extensions of the old and therefore jettisons anything that tends to significantly vary from old ways as an aberration; a deviation that should be seen as an abomination. Neither of these perspectives is useful. One perceives tradition as “a great retarding force,” and one sees modernity as a destabilizing force. One sees organization as a great hindrance and the other perceives spontaneous action as an inoperable circuit. But in reality tradition and modernity, history and philosophy, organised action and spontaneous action feed from one another and can’t exist without the other. There is a dialectic interaction between the students’ historical memory \ historical consciousness (of the slave rebellions, anti-colonial struggles and liberation wars, of the battle of Isandlwana, the June 16, 1976 uprising, etc) and their objective experiences of marginalization \exclusion\discrimination.

Fallism should be seen as continuing as well as discontinuing the traditions of the Congress Movement, the Pan Africanist and Black Consciousness Movements, the Social Movements that emerged in the 90s in response to capitalist globalization and neo-liberalism, and the Black Consciousness inspired counter-hegemony and counter-culture movements like the Blackwash and September National Imbizo that preceded the Rhodes Must Fall, Fees Must Fall and Outsourcing Must Fall movements. This kind of understanding will allow the older generation of activists and segments of the historic liberation movement to appreciate the new movements as building on the legacies and traditions of struggle of their predecessors and responding creatively to current realities- discarding, updating and replacing modes of resistance and protest with new forms of rebellion and activism. Leigh-Ann Naidoo captured this well in her ‘Open Letter to Barney Pityana on the Rhodes Must Fall Movement’ in which she inter alia beseeched:

“If you would show solidarity and engage from the vantage point of being willing to listen and learn rather than knowing better than them, then you would be able to start seeing the amazingness of these young students – mostly undergraduates and honours students. They don’t have all the answers as they grapple with competing oppressions and urgent issues. They are working with concepts like ‘intersectionality’ that bring in to focus the multiple oppressions that occur in addition to the race/class lenses of the past. The movement and its public or popular education programme has created a space that has allowed for people with varying privileges and their corresponding blind spots, to be part of the conversation. This is radical dialogue, which I believe formed part of the legacy with which BC has left us……Biko and you would be impressed by the Black female voices and black transsexual voices in the conversation.

But you don’t have access to any of this because you choose to stand outside of the movement and last we heard from you, you were challenging Prof Pumla Gqola, who has been writing and thinking about radical BC, because you believed somehow that the idea of removing the statue was not well or deep enough thought through. Pumla has come to speak and listen at Azania House, why haven’t you? Is it perhaps because it may make your boardroom meetings with the powerful untenable? Or is it that you have been contorted by privilege and comfort? I am asking because I truly don’t know and would like to understand how so many of the people who fought and sacrificed to fight Apartheid and all its oppressions can stand by silently now and ignore the fact that while things have changed, a lot has morphed into something worse. Poverty and inequality under the ANC’s watch is getting worse, and there has been a rampant entrenchment of white privilege, even under a black government.”

Leigh-Ann Naidoo was essentially appealing for Pityana to see his SASO\BPC activist self in the young activists of Rhodes Must Fall and hear the voice of chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi’s protest against his (Pityana) radicalism of the 70s in his (Pitaya’s) critique of the confrontational and transgressive politics of the Fallists. Indeed the history of the liberation struggle in Azania is the history of the disruption of tradition to create or reclaim a tradition or rather the history of discontinuity and continuity. The South African Native Congress of 1912 disrupted the tradition of resistance to colonialism and imperialist invasions along tribal lines and introduced the mobilization of African people around African Nationalism. Under the new name of the African National Congress (ANC) and within the framework of the Freedom Charter it interrupted African Nationalism with its adoption of multi-racialism and non-racialism. The Pan Africanist Congress contested the multi\ non-racialism framework with its notion of the oneness of the human race and the centrality of the African experience and African people in the struggle against colonialism. The Black Consciousness Movement updated the PAC’s scientific explanation of race as a social construct and a function of the politics and the economy with the Anti-racism position and an explicit broad definition of Black to include all ‘people of colour.’ The ANC Youth League the ANC generation of the 50s and the Pan Africanist Congress respectively disrupted the old ANC tradition of petitions and deputation to international institutions and took the struggle into the realm of mass action with the 1949 Program of Action, the Defiance Campaigns and the Anti-Dompass demonstrations. The Poqo operations went beyond peaceful protest to armed resistance. The 1970s generation fueled by the fire of Black Consciousness moved beyond the traditions of protest to and resistance and rebellion and the 80s generation took the rebellion to the level of rendering apartheid South Africa ungovernable with peaceful and violent acts of civil disobedience, popular uprisings and armed insurrections. As Walter Benjamin observes, history is not based on a progressive flow of “homogeneous, empty time” directed to the future but on a disruptive constellation of the present and the past. The impact of the legacy of the past and the lessons we gain from the exercise of discerning what of the past is use-worthy material and what is garbage material implies that the past is not simply gone. In other words, the past cannot be fully historicized.

The point is not whether or not the struggling oppressed maintains or disrupts traditions in their quest to develop the culture of liberation and to demolish the structures and traditions of oppression. The points is how best the struggling oppressed update and improve the most liberatory traditions of their past and how they frees themselves from the most oppressive traditions of the past. It is precisely by opening themselves to an interrogation and interruption by the new generation of activists and movements that old generations of activists and movements can be assured of a revolutionary continuation of the best of their practices and a revolutionary discontinuation of the worst of their practices. There is a dialectic and complimentary relationship between the optimism of “Shout it aloud: “I am Black & Proud”; “Black is beautiful” and the pessimism of “Black life is death”; “Blackness is the excrement of Whiteness”. Understanding this dialectic is not only the function of how ‘the struggling, oppressed class relates to its oppressed past’ in order to know what ‘past is constitutive or destitute of tradition’. It is also the function of identifying which aspects of the tradition are oppressive and which possess liberatory ethos.

Walter Benjamin asserts that ‘The history of the oppressed is a discontinuum.’ – ‘The task of history is to get hold of the tradition of the oppressed.”. The argument we have presented in this essay is that history constitutes both continuity and discontinuity and that the past carries both oppressive and liberatory memories and practices. Consequently our position is the task of the oppressed is more to identify which tradition is inherently or potentially oppressive and which is inherently or potentially liberatory. Therefore we conclude that the task of the Fallists and other new emerging movements is to combat and discontinue the oppressive aspects of social and political traditions and to reclaim, update, preserve, continue and expand the liberatory elements of social and political traditions.

Screen shot 2017-05-03 at 8.13.15 PM

(Mphutlane wa Bofelo is an anti-establishment underground poet\essayist and popular-education and worker-education facilitator currently based in Durban in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of South Africa)

. This essay expands on the view expressed by wa Bofelo in the keynote address at the Mandela Bay Book Festival on 17 March 2017 on the subject of ‘Black Consciousness Poetry and the Fees Must Fall Movement’
Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya. 2016. Fallists need future view too. The Mercury. 9 April 2016
Azania is the name first adopted by the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and later endorsed by the Black Consciousness Movement and leftist Socialist formations like the African Peoples Democratic Union of South Africa (APDUSA), New Unity Movement (NEUM) and Workers Organization for Socialist Action (WOSA) as the name of a liberated South Africa. The literal translation of Azania is the land of the Black people. Citing Runoko Rashidi and Ivan van Sertima (editors), African Presence in Early Asia, Tenth Anniversary Edition, Transaction Press: New Brunswick: 1995, Black Consciousness stalwart and Maoist theorist, advocate Imrann Moosa asserts that the etymology of Azania to the Zanj Rebellion( 869 – 883 A.D.). The Zanj rebellion constituted of a series of small revolts that eventually culminated into a large rebellion that saw the 500 000 slaves sacking Basrah and setting up their own state, advancing to within seventy (70) miles of Baghdad itself. The Zanj built a city in the marshes known as al-Moktara (the Elect City) that was almost impregnable due to its watery location, and they also built a fortified town, al-Mani’a. They even minted their own currency. The Zanj thus took over the Caliphate and maintained a marooned state for some fifteen (15) years.
Rhodes Must Fall. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodes_Must_Fall (Accessed 9 April 2017)
Raeesa Patel. Rhodes Must Fall: The Movement after the statue. The Daily Vox. Monday, April 24, 2017 http://www.thedailyvox.co.za/rhodes-must-fall-the-movement-after-the-statue/ (Accessed 19 April 2017

On 10 March 2015, UCT student Chumani Maxwele flung the human waste on the statue of Rhodes, calling for the monument to be taken down. This led to scores of protesting students drenching the statue of Cecil John Rhodes in human excrement.
Langa, M. (ed) 2016. # An Analysis of Fees Must Fall Movement in the universities of South Africa. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation: Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Rhodes Must Fall. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodes_Must_Fall (Accessed 19 April 2017)
Amit Chaudhuri. 2016. The Real meaning of Rhodes Must Fall. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/mar/16/the-real-meaning-of-rhodes-must-fall (Accessed 20 April 2017)

Vhahangwele Nemakonde. Is Nompendulo the face of Fees Must Fall? http://citizen.co.za/news/news-national/868535/is-nompendulo-the-face-of-fees-must-fall/ (Accessed on 28 April 2017)
Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya. 2016. Fallists need future view too. The Mercury. 9 March 2016
Luxemburgism – Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organisation http://www.liquisearch.com/luxemburgism/dialectic_of_spontaneity_and_organisation (Accessed 20 April 2017)
Luxemburgism – Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organisation http://www.liquisearch.com/luxemburgism/dialectic_of_spontaneity_and_organisation (Accessed 20 April 2017)

Afro-pessimism http://incognegro.org/afro_pessimism.html (Accessed 21 April 2017 )
The Daily Maverick, 14th April 2015
Walter Benjamin cited by Sami Khatib. 2015. Walter Benjamin and the “Tradition of the Oppressed”. http://anthropologicalmaterialism.hypotheses.org/2128 (Accessed 21 April 2017)


December 3, 2016

You’re In Chains Too

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch,kaganof,music,poetry — ABRAXAS @ 9:49 am


first published here: https://wordnsoundlivelit.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/youre-in-chains-too-solidarity-concert/

November 1, 2016

occupy stellenbosch

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 10:48 pm


October 21, 2016

A message from Thando Joka

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch,Thando Joka — ABRAXAS @ 4:28 pm



Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch,kaganof short films — ABRAXAS @ 3:40 pm

#Freejodi from African Noise Foundation on Vimeo.


October 19, 2016

Nicola Bouwer, Outside Admin B, Stellenbosch University, Tuesday 18 October 2016, 1:09pm

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch,kagaportraits — ABRAXAS @ 8:08 am


October 2, 2016

the stellenbosch premiere

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 9:41 am


October 1, 2016

Filed under: 2015 - Decolonising WITS,2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 10:59 am


August 24, 2016

Majaletje Mathume Opening Stellenbosch

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 3:18 am


August 23, 2016

Majaletje Mathume Opening Stellenbosch

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 3:33 pm


July 12, 2016

MOHAMMAD SHABANGU on Language and Exclusion at Stellenbosch University

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 12:44 pm


I should begin with a few opening remarks which will, I hope, anchor my overall argument as it relates to Language and Transformation at Stellenbosch University. Firstly, in response to the emerging critique following the memorandum of grievances and demands which was handed to the vice chancellor, it will be difficult to address some apparently ‘significant’ concerns since they are informed, however unconsciously, by apartheid era epistemic procedures which have always served to construct taxonomic racial and cultural diagrams. One such concern, often highlighted by those eager to jettison the ethico-politcal dimension of our argument, has to do with what is seen as ostensibly a paradox: ‘there is an amorphous number of black people who are also Afrikaans speakers’, therefore your demands are inattentive to the needs of many black students at Stellenbosch. Far from being a neutral objection to our demand for language reform, this argument, if that is what it is, reflects a profound and hurtful blindness to white supremacy. That is to say, such a contention simply gestures towards an inability to develop a critical vocabulary that can capture the mutating forms of racism in our post-apartheid context. A contrastive analogy, fanciful as it might seem, would be the post-Marikana debates which took place in many middle class circles shortly after the 34 striking miners were massacred in 2012. The assertion in these circles (black and white alike) was that, because the miners died under the watch of a black government, at the instruction of black police commissioners, at the hands of mostly black police men and women, the massacre cannot possibly be a racial issue, and we should therefore not conceive of it as such (it was seldom framed in racial terms). The simplistic reason: because there were black people involved in the incident, the racial and racist dimension of the episode can be set aside. This logic is clearly flawed and conveniently disavows the social determinations of human life together with the specificities of our racial past. On a far less visceral level, the objection to our demand for language reform takes on the same illogical thought pattern: because an amorphous number of black people are involved in instrumentalising Afrikaans, the charge of racism against the university and its language policy can be set aside, and the debate conceived of in neutral linguistic terms. As if to suggest that if x amount of blacks participate in a system, their mere participation indicates an ‘open’ ‘non-racist’ space. Time limitations preclude my going into detail about this logical fallacy, suffice to say that just because there are black people who speak Afrikaans, an obvious fact not even worth noting, it does not mean that Language (Afrikaans language in particular) does not function as an exclusionary tool at Stellenbosch University.

Now, no right thinking person can deny that Stellenbosch is a space of deeply entrenched structural and institutional racism and patriarchy. So, the language question cannot be separated from the question of ethics, and ethics in turn cannot be conceived of outside of the process of developing democratic intuitions. When talking about the language issue, we – members of Open Stellenbosch – are driven by a will to social justice. To attend to this, we are working together to bring about critical change at Stellenbosch University, a change that can only be realised by addressing the language question. Open Stellenbosch is an anti-racist, anti-sexist, non-partisan movement that recognises our location in the belly of the beast of Neo-apartheid infrastructure.

I should begin by highlighting an obvious fact, that is, the idea that the post-apartheid present is mediated by historical discourse. If Language is itself the bearer of discourse, then it is also central to ideology. Language, both as a means of communication as well as a process of meaning making, can be and has been manipulated to subjugate black people in general. The typical conception of collective and individual power dynamics, a way of understanding ones existence as arising ex nihilo, creates a false history which further implies that ‘cultures’ and peoples are at different places on the timeline when, in truth, they are merely different. And one way the university has successfully managed to minoritise blacks is by presenting Afrikaans as ‘a developed academic language’, in contradistinction to Xhosa, for instance, an indigenous language still needing to be systematised, or invested with scientific and academic value. Apart from the absurd notion that systematising indigenous languages is an unquestioned good, this discursive strategy nevertheless works well for Afrikaner nationalists. Hence, I want to suggest that we commit ourselves to unlearning the naturalised and commonsensical ways of accounting for disenfranchised groups. To this extent, we must refute the notions of ‘diversity’ or ‘inclusivity’, in favour of comprehensive Transformation of the space sine the concept of ‘inclusivity’ relegates black people to mere appendages of a white, specifically Afrikaner dominant culture and mode of being. I’ll explain this further as it relates to language: The idea of diversity, of languges, of people, and of class and various other subject formations, belongs to the terrain of cultural studies within which the discourse of ‘minorities’ is located. The language policy, the discourse about diversity to which it gestures, may in fact be complicit with the minoritisation of cultures in, and people at, SU. By rethinking some of Homi Bhabha’s early formulations in postcolonial subject formation, I want to relocate culture within the diversifying processes and therefore highlight the benefit of historicising the discursive construction of social reality which is in turn reified in the form of the policy. I want, thus, to advance and develop the late twentieth century proposition that such historicism is only possible if one “relocate[s] the referential and institutional demands of such theoretical work in the field of cultural difference – not cultural diversity” (Bhabha’s italics, 32). If Transformation is a true objective of the institution, then this distinction between difference and diversity must be accentuated and accounted for in the language policy. It is important for my undertaking since ‘cultural diversity’ is concerned with epistemological objects and is therefore constituted by treating culture as “an object of imperial knowledge” (34). Hence, the usefulness of cultural difference within cultural studies (in contrast to cultural diversity) is that difference, in fact, lies in the very idea that the enunciation of cultural difference “problematizes the binary division of past and present, tradition and modernity” (35) and so forth, and therefore disrupts the very homogenising symbols that one will find in ‘cultural diversity’: the idea of a fixed and single ‘community’ or a stable system of reference. . I am suggesting here that we move our attention elsewhere in search for an opportunity to rethink our understanding of Transformation more generally, so that we think of it as has having to do less with notions of inclusivity or any comparable compensatory gesture, but Transformation as beginning with the work un learning our epistemological procedures, and doing the ethical act of giving up our privilege (white, male, heterosexual and any other positions of domination) in order to create the enabling conditions for a spontaneous abrupt kind of newness in the space. Such a newness is characterised by co-ownership of the space.

As far as language, then, black people do not want to be taken in by the narrative of inclusivity, because such a narrative, by the very definition of the term ‘inclusive’ reaffirms the position of white power by establishing a minority/ majority dichotomy which itself is a distortion of reality in South Africa. Once we see Transformation functioning to as undo this insidious myth, ‘inclusivity’ (as well as the resultant fallacies of it; multilingualism etc.) falls away and the space is cleared for the emergence of true reconciliatory work. I mention this, however inchoate, because it seems to me that the university has consistently talked about transformation in quantitative terms that have been negligent of the material realities and lived experiences of black people at Stellenbosch

Now, taking the language policy as a point of departure, we are fighting for substantive and comprehensive Transformation which is attuned to the lived experiences of black people, a political category which for us is not only a matter of pigmentation, but also includes those people who have a shared experience of discrimination and dehumanisation in this space. We challenge the privileging of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, not simply on the grounds that it is necessary if we are to bear the full fruit of ‘inclusivity’, but on the grounds that it belies the university’s own vision statement. In addition, the university is largely funded by a post-apartheid and democratic South African state which means that it is thus intended – inherently – to be a public space. It follows that such a space should be one to which all students should feel able to lay equal claim. We have noted how the privileging of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction translates itself to a privileging beyond the classroom. It extends into the social fabric of our residences and other shared spaces, wherein black people are consequently marginalised and maligned

It is interesting too that management’s response to our movement has thus far been predictable: defend Afrikaans as the language of instruction by insisting on ‘multilingualism’ and repeating that the use of Afrikaans as a primary medium of instruction is constitutionally valid. Ironically, the University Council, the Vice Chancellor and Vice Rector, who are supposedly key overseers of transformation, have failed to recognise that the achievement of equality is one of the founding values of the Constitution. The right to equality is entrenched in section 9 of the Constitution. This right is elaborated on in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA).

We have noted that the problem with the University’s current approach to Transformation has to do with a deliberate equivocation of key terminology, a convenient mistake on the part of management. For instance, their uncritical understanding of ‘racism’ is taken to mean different things at different times. This equivocation works well for those who do not recognise the need to account for the injustices of the past. Such people will often claim that any differentiation on the basis of race should be deemed ‘racist’. Related to that, what is also often conflated is the distinction between direct and indirect discrimination. Indirect discrimination can, and often does, amount to unfair discrimination. Indirect discrimination as exemplified by the language policy, includes any discrimination which is framed in terms of ostensibly neutral criteria, but that none the less has the effect of marginalising a particular group. In a landmark case on indirect discrimination is the Constitutional Court, the decision in City Council of Pretoria v Walker, was properly summed up Langa DP in noting that he problem with cases of indirect discrimination is that “there is almost always some purpose other than a discriminatory purpose involved in the conduct or action to which objection is taken”. As far as Stellenbosch University is concerned, that purpose is said to be the ‘protection’ of the language rights of the Afrikaans minority. The calculated actions of the university amount to the protection, not of Afrikaans culture, but of the white Afrikaans culture. Staff demographics are the most striking and measurable indication of this, but they are by no accounts the only indication.

From its inception, Open Stellenbosch has impressed on the student body the simple message that we wish to hear their stories. “I remember sitting in a lecture once, when a student raised her hand to clarify something with the lecturer in English.” So begins one of the hundreds of stories that have been sent to Open Stellenbosch. What the student describes next is a several minute long monologue in which the girl was personally attacked for having even dared to ask the question: “You people come to our university, and then expect us to change!?”

The stories that are the most revealing are often more subtle. One student recalls that way his lecturer, while following the language policy, would none the less make all of his jokes in Afrikaans. Jokes told in this way are not funny – they are a sign of the systematic exclusion of black students and, through that exclusion, a way of securing white Afrikaner culture which was founded and since kept in place through symbolic, systemic and physical violence in the present.

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 12:36 pm


July 9, 2016

Thato Phatlane and Sikhulekile Duma, Stellenbosch University, 2015

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch,kagaportraits — ABRAXAS @ 9:38 am


June 28, 2016

FULL HOUSE – Opening Stellenbosch South African premiere at the Labia, Cape Town

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 8:33 am


June 17, 2016

Leonardo di Franceschi on Opening Stellenbosch: From Assimilation to Occupation

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 12:57 pm


One of the better aspects of the guidelines of the African Film Festival of Asia and Latin America, at the time of construction of this 26th edition, the choice of the motto (Designing Futures) the compilation of the bill, including side events, is to suggest that here and there they exist, in today’s Africa, the strong points and new intersection between visual art and grassroots movements. If so, the route taken by Aryan Kaganof – who returns to Milan to two years from the poignant An Inconsolable Memory – is emblematic, because it tells a very rare ability to bring productive independence, formal experimentation and constant reflection on visuality and breed in South Africa today, it is no longer afraid to make terms with their foundation myths, because “the rainbow nation is a white lie built on black suffering.”

The beginning of this new phase of occurrence within the South African universities should be done probably date back to March 9, 2015 when the student Chumani Maxwele and a dozen other students staged a protest at the University of Cape Town that was aimed primarily slaughter a large bronze statue of Cecil Rhodes, the figure prince of British colonialism in South Africa who gave his name to Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. I am throwing human feces at the statue, challenging the university’s security with protest songs and dances in toyi toyi-style, in a manner used successfully by the anti-apartheid movement after the Soweto massacre of 1976, and accompanying the initiative with launch of a Facebook page and hashtag #RhodesMustFall, the movement has not only obtained the removal of the statue on April 9, but has started a chain reaction, producing a reflection on the South African university was involving many other universities. Kaganof has been at the forefront in documenting the development of the protest to Witswaterstand Johannesburg, producing a first film, Decolonizing Wits (2015), which was released in June 2015, and a few weeks ago has completed this Opening Stellenbosch, dedicated to ‘ eponymous movement that developed in the University of Stellenbosch, a town in the Western Cape region, and presented at the 26th FCAAAL world premiere in the section Designing Futures.

The director made this documentary, including one extended version exists in three parts on which he wrote a South African magazine (here), while he was a guest of the university as an artist-in-residency. Well, apparently they not at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study have not appreciated, because they have refused to screen it. And yes Kaganof, anarchist artist and avant-garde, has produced anything but a reportage on the move, perhaps appealing and effective on the journalistic level. The director, while still showing the removal of images of Rhodes statue, does nothing to help the viewer to navigate, projecting it immediately into the fire of a controversy that leaves the university, as you will understand, to question indirectly, due primarily to reflection of the students themselves, the reality of South Africa today, where the process of political and especially social reforms seems to come to a worrying stalemate. Judging by what emerges from two documentaries, the university is one of the areas where white privilege, Afrikaner and male, continues to dominate virtually undisturbed. We see students do sit-in with signs which show that less than 3.5 of the teacher persons consists of professors and blacks that the 18 members of the board are strictly men and whites. The hall dedicated to Steven Biko and made available to students for meetings and recreational activities is a large room with no windows.

Kaganof cites Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks to allude to the complexity of the racial dynamics that still cross the South African society and are reflected by the same lacerations within the student movement. Within the university there are some radical professors who supported and indeed in some way favored the very birth of the movement, and the director often gave the floor to a young researcher at the Department of Anthropology, who complains despite its commitment that it has been sometimes silenced by a nationalist fringe of the students simply because white, another student tells of feeling in turn excluded from the movement for the same reason, and a third confessed to live their whiteness with a deep sense of guilt, but the white and male Kaganof with one of his signs vitriolic dissociates from any white unease, self-centered and narcissistic.

On the other hand, is also a problem of authority and legitimacy: a student reflects on the fact that many of his colleagues out of habit are inclined to recognize the authority of a white professor but instead struggle to recognize one black, and someone else claims to blacks the right to enjoy blacks space to heal the wounds of the past. Autodefinitorio the same method by which each student is asked to specify, at registration, if you consider Asian / Indian, African, Colored or White, is the problem and not only to the student’s eyes that you feel uncomfortable because the daughter of an Asian / Indian and an African. Notwithstanding the legitimacy to empathize and identify themselves with the struggles of other black communities in the global reality, another student tells from experience that in the US the Africans like him have trouble feeling Black because everything instead constantly reminds her African origins .

Kaganof plunges into the collective meetings, it does look a participant in the sequences of sit ins and demonstrations on campus, trying to return the hubs around which organized the protest, such as the issue of the official language. Too many lessons are still taught in Afrikaner, the movement came essentially to require the adoption of English as the lingua franca, but some are also to give legitimacy to the local languages. The clash is polarized by many against the dean white, Wim de Villiers, considered an elite specimen that continues to protect their conditions of privilege, merely small formal concessions in terms of diversity. A professor accuses the movement of naiveté and make operation easier copycat in his recapture of the watchwords of the African groups in revolt against racial profiling police, such as the famous and terrible “I Can not Breathe” by Eric Garner but Kaganof responds with a sign in which dusts off a forgotten quote Fanon that sounds “when we rebel is not for a particular culture. We rebel simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe. ”

It is in the application istitito and often provocative cartels that Kaganof puts forward his point of view, unsettling, and iconoclastic, but also in the use of music – which, to many protest songs in English or local languages, performed in the course of demonstrations, sometimes mixed in voice-over pieces of classical music and Lieder – and anti-naturalistic sound processing. On the level of discursive policy, however, the surest sign of Kaganof materialist sensibility in the attention that is always dedicated to the questions of class, opening occasionally glimpses which overlooks the look of a bricklayer or a woman of cleaning, or the object film passages, in which dwells in showing what remains of campus life, in rubbish bins and out: waste, tracks and signs of a power of goods that resists even the most radical racial struggles . Perhaps the ultimate taboo that is still struggling to gain a foothold in the movements, it is precisely that of the class, which calls into question more sharply the continuity in the relations of existing forces in the south africa company, beyond the battles, sacrosanct, on the slope of race, gender and sexual orientation, for which South Africa has much more progressive positions of many western countries, the first African country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2006.

Leonardo De Franceschi | 26. African Film Festival, Asia and Latin America

June 14, 2016

HENDRIK FRENSCH VERWOERD on the race question, Stellenbosch University

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch,race,stellenbosched — ABRAXAS @ 3:09 pm




June 13, 2016

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 12:11 pm


June 12, 2016

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch,stellenbosched — ABRAXAS @ 3:50 pm


June 10, 2016

OPENING STELLENBOSCH: From Assimilation to Occupation

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 8:47 am


first published here: http://www.africine.org/?menu=film&no=18326

June 8, 2016

OPENING STELLENBOSCH: From Assimilation to Occupation

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 10:04 pm


June 3, 2016



June 1, 2016

OPENING STELLENBOSCH: From Assimilation to Occupation

Filed under: 2016 - Opening Stellenbosch — ABRAXAS @ 3:28 pm

Screen shot 2016-06-01 at 3.29.40 PM
first published here: http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2016/05/31/Fly-on-the-varsity-wall

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