Fighting words from #RhodesMustFall activists

2015-03-25 23:23
(Lauren Hess, News24)

(Lauren Hess, News24)

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Cape Town – “The future is moving a lot faster than your consciousness.”

These were the fighting words of one UCT student to those who believe that the statue of Cecil John Rhodes must remain in its current place at the university.

The student was one of dozens of people, including staff, to speak at an assembly held by the university to discuss the statue and the apparent lack of transformation at the institution.

The assembly got off to a tense start when Professor Barney Pityana was replaced as meeting chairperson because students felt he was not impartial. He was replaced by Kgotso Chikane.

UCT made headlines earlier in March when students threw faeces and urine on the base of the Rhodes statue during a protest against “white imperialism”.

Many students took to the podium in Jameson Hall to speak of hate speech, much of it online, they have encountered since their protest began.

Another student alleged that campus security assaulted her and two other students earlier this week while a staff member merely looked on.

A few staff members also voiced their concerns, with one, Dr Darlene Miller, a 53-year-old coloured sociology lecturer at UCT with a PhD, revealing that she is only paid R9 600.

"We have the knowledge. The environment has been so hostile. Welcome us back; we will come," Miller said of South Africa’s universities.

Adam Haupt, the associate professor of media studies at UCT, congratulated students on their activism and reminded them that the bid to rid the university of the Rhodes statue was “just the beginning of the battle”. 

White students who support the bid to remove the statue also urged white South Africans to show more empathy to black South Africans and to “face their own prejudices”.

The assembly ended with #RhodesMustFall activists taking to the stage at Jameson Hall and singing struggle songs. 

- Follow Lauren on Twitter
Read more on:    uct  |  cape town  |  cecil john rhodes  |  monuments debate  |  education

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