A memoir to my unborn daughter: The UCT I envision for you

2014-06-14 06:05

I yearn for a day, were you my daughter will walk the campus of UCT not having to be reminded of the dehumanisation of your people. To walk with pride and assurance, that you too are UCT. I envision a campus, where you no longer have to be at the mercy of institutional racism and will not be looked upon as a burden to the institution. Where you will be treated as more than a mere number. I wish for you, a UCT, that cares for all and prides itself not only as being the best University in Africa, but one which shall also pride itself as the most diverse and united.

Where each student will make an active effort to understand the different realities of our varied upbringings, not constrained by the naivety of an ignorant White person or the anger of an unforgiving Black person. I envision a UCT that you my dearest can be proud of and identified with.

Were you won’t have to feel the urge to be a feminist, but shall enjoy all the rights, respects and opportunities given to your counterpart. Indeed, if God wills that your sexual orientation is such that you are interested in women. I wish to see a University that will accept you the way the Almighty created you. That is the unity in diversity I am alluding to.

If by Grace, God further wills that you are born physically or mentally challenged. I envision an institution that shall be accessible and understanding of your needs. A UCT that shall see you as the star your daddy shall see you as, irrespective of your ability or disability.

A UCT that shall openly discuss the challenges facing our society, not in a way that we blame or point fingers at each other. But in a constructive manner, were all of us at the end of the day accept responsibility for the state of our nation. Be it, your ancestor’s participation in the castration of a people’s progress or by way of one's family keeping on voting for those who are unfit into office. En bloc, we have to take responsibility if we are to take UCT and Africa forward.

I dream for you, a UCT that shall practice the principle which are stated in its values statement and most importantly a UCT that will teach you not the ways of the economic man, who seeks nothing but to maximize utility as a consumer and economic profit as a producer. That it should embed in you a sense of social responsibility and obligation to do something about the dire conditions of this world.

For you my daughter, I dream of Utopia. The land of milk and honey, not servitude and the curse upon man brought about by his untamed desire for self-fulfilment.

You epitomize Africa’s best. Guard your mind and heart against the media. Let them not determine your self-worth. You are the pinnacle of the hope and aspiration of nations, your womb signifies the fortitude of man. For without you, there can be no society. You are the foundation upon which society is build.

No matter the dwelling which our family lives in, at each opportunity, I will be taking you to the streets of Langa and the dumps of Alexander, so that you see and experience the conditions your people. I shall be taking you to the depth of Limpopo’s forestry and impoverished areas; you shall live there among the people learning their humble ways. Even though they live in abject poverty, you will appreciate the simplicity of their lives and the respect they have for each other and the rest of God’s creation.

Take heart and do not be disturbed as you walk around UCT, seeing portraits of naked Black men and women, all done in the name of art and history. When you ask “where are the portraits of naked White men and women”? You shall be met with criticism and name calling. Let that not deter you from being African and being proud.

Have courage my little one, as you articulate your experiences and the conditions of your people you will be called a racial bigot. They may label you a racist, not knowing that you are only expressing the realities of the societies in which you were born. You must never dishonour the course of liberty of your people by remaining silent.

Ensure that the ‘perceived’ racial harmony and sense of equality that UCT will lead you to believe, shall not make you forget of the struggles of millions of Africans living as ‘rejects’ of society.

Do not be swayed by the notion of a race-blind institution. We need not deny that there are differences between people, although not meaning that one is better than the other, we should strive to create a society in which we celebrate and embrace our differences. In the long-run, we will have to commit ourselves to living in a society that does not benefit any person based on the pigmentation of one’s skin. But my daughter, history informs me, that by the time of your maturity that need to have measures to benefit man by virtue of his skin colour will still be a necessity in South Africa. In discussing ways of uplifting your people, many will say do not refer to skin colour. They forget that apartheid and colonisation was affirmative action for White people, when you say affirmative action for the Black people to correct the past, they will say let’s move to non-racialism.

I will however ask of you a small favour, my dearest one, that as you get absorbed in the discourse of the upliftment of your people let it not manifest wrongfully into anger and hate. Let those around you feel compassion, love and acceptance.

I pray that as you grow, God will lead you to greater frontiers. May He groom you in His courts and molds you into the shape He sees fit for your character and future. May your ways be those of forgiveness and sincerity. Even if you’re fellow UCT mates may be blinded by the comfort of their own upbringing. Be patient with them, for they do not even understand that they do not understand. Logic and reason can only take you to a certain extent, after all, your Great-grandmother used to say “you cannot teach a man born blind what the colour red looks like, because he does not have the experience of it”. Most of your colleagues will not have the experience of poverty, and most importantly the experience of being Black. How then can you expect them to understand?

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