Guest Column

Ideology of victimhood is destroying our universities

2018-06-27 10:31
The University of Cape Town's Jameson Hall. (James de Villiers/News24)

The University of Cape Town's Jameson Hall. (James de Villiers/News24)

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Phumlani Majozi

What South Africa's universities have become over the past years is utterly sickening. 

The inclusion of the 'people of color' (POC) supper, exclusively for black people, in the Decolonial Winter School program at the University of Cape Town last week was indicative of the shameful mess our universities have turned into. 

Though UCT publicly condemned this act by the organisers, and the reference to POC was then subsequently removed, the saga highlighted a broader discomforting trend about South Africa’s universities: the rise of racist, left-wing movements that occasionally disrupt and divide our campuses.

The organisers of the racist supper have been unapologetic about what they were attempting to do – which was to exclude others on the basis of their race. That they are still unapologetic about this disgusting behaviour is telling.

How our university campuses have been turned into intolerant, openly racist enclaves is not difficult to understand. 

Academics, the media and politicians have been behind the slow destruction of our universities. They turned campuses into places of mourning and resentment. On many occasions, they tolerated and supported hooliganism because it was in the name of so-called social justice. 

These days, student heroism is defined by galvanising violent protests, spewing racist utterances, disrupting lectures and denying other students the opportunity to learn. When this happens, as we saw during the rampant student riots over the past four years, law enforcement becomes weak. 

It becomes weak because the media, academic staff, and those in political seats equate the police’s actions to curb violence to those of apartheid law enforcement; a very dangerous thing to do in a democratic society that must maintain law and order.

Professors ought to be telling students how they, individually, can make a meaningful contribution to South Africa’s economic productivity. Instead, they teach students the ideology of victimhood; that somebody out there owes them something. They are told to resent those who have more than they have – through the flawed "income inequality" mantra.


That those kids led by Alex Hotz saw it appropriate to arrange for an exclusively black supper – and be subsequently unapologetic about it – shows how deep the rot is in our universities. These kids have an agenda – a destructive one. If you didn't know better, you'd think they have political ambitions. Fuelling racism and victimhood is certainly one way to get to political fame.

I was fortunate that I was a student at UCT before rioting became fashionable. That a child from a poor family like mine got to study at a then reputable university like UCT was a great honour. It is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. It was not easy. I struggled. But thankfully, I survived.

If I were to ever set up a university, reckless behaviour would not be tolerated. Order would be one of the fundamental policies of my university. And it would be strongly enforced.

It’s time we accept that mourning, complaining and resenting those who are more successful than us will get us nowhere. We have to be focused, and work towards achieving our goals. Personal responsibility will be key to our success.

But to politicians and aspiring politicians, such advice is anathema. You will never hear Julius Malema and his party, the Stalinist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), promoting individual responsibility across South Africa and in universities. Where there are student riots, they go to fuel them. Why blame them? It’s in their interest. Chaos and promoting victimhood gets them votes. 

A serious problem exists in our universities. If we do not act as soon as possible, it will be all over. Let’s not rely on politicians. They won’t bring the needed change. Nor should we rely on professors who, instead of teaching, become "advocates of social justice". The media, similarly, are in it for the ratings and the money.

That leaves us. We, you and I, must make a difference. That difference will begin by acknowledging that personal responsibility, no-racialism, hard work and not blaming others, are the only ways we can build a prosperous South Africa. That acknowledgement must begin with all of us as individuals.

- Phumlani M. Majozi is a political and economic analyst, a senior fellow at AfricanLiberty.org, host of The State of Africa on Salaamedia radio and One Nation FM 88.9 (in Polokwane), and non-executive director at Free Market Foundation South Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    racism  |  universities  |  ideology
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