We are done explaining ourselves - Qwabe

2016-05-09 22:03
Rhodes scholar and activist Ntokozo Qwabe addresses reporters in Johannesburg  (Genevieve Quintal, News24)

Rhodes scholar and activist Ntokozo Qwabe addresses reporters in Johannesburg (Genevieve Quintal, News24)

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WATCH: Qwabe says, 'It isn't about the waitress, it's about whiteness'

2016-05-10 06:51

Rhodes scholar Ntokozo Qwabe says donations for the waitron he and friends refused a tip over land ownership proves a point about whiteness.WATCH

Johannesburg - Controversial Rhodes scholar Ntokozo Qwabe on Monday said activists, such as himself, were done explaining themselves.

"I think a lot of us reached that point where… from the beginning that we’ve been involved in the movements we are involved in, we have been asked to explain ourselves constantly and that is not good because it drains us," he told reporters in Rosebank, Johannesburg on Monday.

"We would rather put energy into actually doing what matters and doing the work on the ground."

This comes after Qwabe, who was one of the leaders of the Rhodes Must Fall movement, made headlines following an incident at Obz Café in Cape Town last month.

He sought to clear up reports regarding the incident which he called "tip gate", saying it was not him who wrote 'WE WILL GIVE [A] TIP WHEN YOU RETURN THE LAND' on the till slip.

"You must distinguish between the story as it happened, and the story as it is told by the media," he said.

Qwabe said it was transgender activist Wandile Dlamini who wrote on the slip, but says it was not out of spite.

"It was not a moment of spitefulness, or dickness… the act was not about the waitress."

Qwabe said he and Dlamini had been discussing his research and were in deep political conversation about what it meant to exist as a black person, when the incident happened.

When the waitress, Ashleigh Schultz, received the till slip, the manager came and confronted Qwabe and Dlamini.

It was reported that Schultz was crying, but Qwabe said this was not true.

‘White tears’

He was also accused of gloating about the incident on his Facebook page.

Qwabe had posted: "The waitress comes to us with a card machine for the bill to be sorted out. She sees the note and starts shaking. She leaves us & bursts into typical white tears (like way are you crying when all we’ve done is make a kind request? lol!)"

But the student activist on Monday said he did not mean that Schultz had literally cried.

He explained that "white tears" referred to when a person was "challenged to think about a question and they start getting uncomfortable".

"It is not literal tears. A lot of people now think that what we did was make all these people cry. No we didn't.

"[Neither] the waitress, nor the manager, nor anyone actually cried. It's not true that there was this bullied waitress who cried."

Qwabe said it was explained to Schultz and her manager that this was not a personal attack.

"A lot of the time, when people conduct protests on campuses white people feel attacked by those protests, even when it is made clear that it is not directed at them.

"Males do that as well when radical feminists… have carried their shamboks and said we are asserting ourselves as women and we are going to occupy this space… same thing with trans bodies. We need to work on that.

"When people with marginal identities assert themselves and protest we take it personally… we need a bit more maturity," said Qwabe.

Despite not writing the message on the till slip, Qwabe said he fully backed it.

Read more on:    ntokozo qwabe  |  johannesburg

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