UCT’s 100?000-year plan

2015-03-30 15:00

It looks like the plan by the University of Cape Town (UCT) to get black teaching staff in essence means waiting for the white ones to evolve into black ones through natural selection over thousands of years.

Apparently, they don’t have one black South African female professor. Who is doing their recruitment, Steve Hofmeyr?

To be honest, academia in general seems to be lagging. In South Africa, only 4% of the full professors in higher education are black South Africans. I want to know why the people in charge aren’t throwing poo at themselves. From rectum to rector. Only 0.85% of the total are black female South Africans. Climate change is happening faster than change in academia.

The people in charge will tell you they can’t find staff, but the truth is the micropolitical hurdles for black academics as far as academic networking, getting published, and so on goes, are not spoken about.

If we could get DJ Sbu to Photoshop “transform academia” on to a Forbes magazine cover, then maybe someone would do something.

Pointing at the statue was brilliant because it focused the issue at one symbol, a thread to start pulling. The Rhodes statue is ridiculous. How do you steal a million square miles of Africa and then want recognition for donating some of it back? Next, hijackers will want recognition for running school-lift schemes with stolen cars.

People say this stance will discourage future philanthropists. Future philanthropists best not colonise places and call them Rhodesia, Chesteresia or GarethCliffesia then.

The problem with transformation is that we ignore incumbency. When the Rhodes statue was put up, did we all have a say in whether it should be there? No? Then voetsek, Mr Rhodes. The debate should not be “should we keep it?” Take it down and then debate whether to put it back.

That’s how power works. It normalises and becomes invisible. Look at all the UCT alumni writing in to have a say. We all know UCT’s rules during apartheid, and we all know who economically has had the most access to the place after apartheid, so why are we pretending a debate on the matter is in any way fair? It’s like going for marriage counselling, where the one spouse gets a megaphone and says: “But I let you talk.”

Next, there’s the don’t-get-rid-of-history argument. Apparently, the supporters of this foolery have never heard of museums, an innovative idea invented to solve this exact problem. I know, mind-blowing.

Of course this is not just about symbols. It’s about fees and access. If you can prove the statue has been offering classes on the side or a student is living in it, then cool. If not, then bye-bye you crusty old bigot.

@chestermissing is going on a four-month sabbatical to complete a documentary and attend a meditation retreat for puppets

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