Transformation means scrutiny of self, beliefs - Eusebius McKaiser

2016-06-09 22:18
Eusebius McKaiser speaks at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

Eusebius McKaiser speaks at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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Durban – The discussion on transformation in society can only move forward if we allow scrutiny of our beliefs and self-identity, said author and public speaker Eusebius McKaiser speaking at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College on Thursday.

The lecture, titled Disrupting Conventional Paradigms: Decolonising the Curriculum, Research and Community, saw McKaiser frankly discuss transformation and how South Africans often react to the topic.

"The reason we are not there [at the goal of transformation] is because conversations about transformation are emotionally jarring because they require us, [to look at ourselves] on a deeply personal level before we talk on an institutional level. The conversation asks you to revise settled beliefs you have about your place in South African society and how you got there," McKaiser said.

The former National South African Universities Debate champion said the reason South Africans disagree deeply with what transformation is and why it is required, is because everyone would like their world view to remain intact.

"The possibility of their world view being upset is what we experience on a deep personal front because it means revising truths about how you are implicated in privilege and exclusion – if you are a liberal in particular."


McKaiser said the South African society cannot begin to have a "means-to-an-end conversation on what transformation is, unless we have a useful discussion on how we are going to get there".

"When the belief is at the centre of your self-identity, you will do anything to protect that belief from scrutiny that it is false."

McKaiser said he preferred the term decolonisation to transformation.

"We have not achieved transformation. Transformation speaks to polite politics where you make incremental changes. For me transformation is a requirement of justice. It is not nice to have or tactically important. Anyone who is committed to a just SA must be able to unpack their conception of justice.

"Your conception of justice has to mean inclusiveness. Transformation has to aim at inclusivity."

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