Graduate Ntokozo Qwabe details struggle as a poor, black student

2016-11-11 07:25
Ntokozo Qwabe (News24)

Ntokozo Qwabe (News24)

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WATCH: Infamous Ntokozo Qwabe busts moves at Oxford

2016-07-15 11:46

Watch as Ntokozo Qwabe celebrates the end of exams busting moves.WATCH

Cape Town - A student activist with multiple university degrees described how his opportunities as a child prodigy almost slipped through his fingers because he could not afford fees.

With four degrees and a number of awards under his belt, Ntokozo Qwabe wrote in a post for Fees Must Fall supporters that he would not have had a chance at "black excellence" had he not been "ultra resilient".

"Yes, we are in this struggle because black excellence is constantly blocked out by fees," he wrote on student Facebook page Shackville TRC 2016.

"The next time you hear anyone tell you we protest because we do not want to be in class, tell them we actually do want to be in class. 

"We just want to be in a better class. A class that sees our class as black excellent students. A class that is not built to structurally exclude and undermine us."

Qwabe has in the past made headlines for his Rhodes Must Fall activism at Oxford University where he was studying on a Rhodes scholarship, an irony pointed out by his detractors. Earlier this year he was also criticised when a friend, Wandile Dlamini, brought a white waitress to tears with a note about land on their receipt. Qwabe had been with Dlamini at the Obz Cafe in Observatory, Cape Town, at the time.

Forced to drop out

In the post Qwabe said waitress Ashleigh Schultz cried "white tears", which Qwabe explained were not literal tears, after receiving the till slip which read, "We will give [a] tip when you return the land".

He explained that he finished high school at the age of 16 and took out a Nsfas loan to study at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

It only covered his studies, but not food, books, transport and other day-to-day needs.

He dropped out in 2007 because he could not afford these costs anymore. At first he could not get a job because he was too young, and when he finally got a job it was as a trolley pusher and then as a cashier at Shoprite.

He said he earned enough to take himself back to university.

His results garnered him a scholarship, but this meant he lost the Nsfas funding, which put him back in the same position - his fees were covered, but not his living costs.

Unjust system

Qwabe said he is now completing his fourth degree. 

"Yes, my hope is a world where there are no more Ntokozos. No more blacks who have to be a hundred times ultra resilient in order to get to where I have been lucky to. 

"Structural exclusion cannot continue any longer! I was so close to not making it. All those prestigious global awards, degrees, distinctions etc. - they were nearly all shut out. All that black excellence nearly successfully suppressed at the hands of an unjust system."

This should not be allowed to continue, he said.

After almost eight weeks of protests over fees universities have opted to go ahead with exams.

Read more on:    uct  |  ntokozo qwabe  |  cape town  |  poverty  |  university protests  |  education  |  university fees

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