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Vivat academia!

2009-10-21 11:02

 I was reminded of this little literary gem when I read the just-released report – well, the summary of the report… OK, I read the news article about the summary of the report - on discrimination in South African universities, commissioned by the Minister of Education and paid for by us. And if you ask me, it's money well spent. I always felt slightly guilty in secretly thinking that Afrikaans universities were stagnant cesspools of festering prejudice where discrimination still partied like it was 1979. But now, thanks to the report, I can be open about it. Phew! What a relief. For a while there, I thought I was being a bit of a bigot. As it turns out, I was just being a realist all along.

Not that they’re the only ones, of course. If you’ve ever thought that university life is not part of the “real world” you only need to check out the levels of bigotry on South African campuses to see they’re as real as a prostate exam. This seems shocking, because discrimination is generally associated with stupidity, or at the very least ignorance. There’s no such thing as an intelligent, self-actualised racist. But as you can see from the now infamous video from the University of the Free State, they allow almost anyone into university these days.

If you think the report was a waste of time and money, blame the apartheid-hugging boneheads who embarrassed us all and got their own residence shut down in an attempt to create a video that looks like a cross between a Jackass outtake and Leon Schuster’s early work – only with more stupid. They’re the reason why the investigation was set up in the first place. And now that the report is public, hopefully some real change will be the next step.

Me? I thank them. For years I wondered vaguely when the Education Minister was going to pull finger and do something about the unconstitutional, unofficial segregation still going strong on campuses for more than a decade after the National Party was reduced to little more than a history lesson. Like Martin Luther King, I had a dream – only mine was that a racist, AWB supporting first year student would be faced with the choice of either sharing a residence room with a Biko-worshipping township socialist, or going back home to start a family with his sister.

The thought still brings a tear to my eye.

I’m also a little jealous, because I have a sneaking suspicion that the makers of the video have done more to end racism in their year of notoriety than I’ve done in mine as a columnist. I can see them now, as active members of the FF+, fighting even more racism, this time in the form of affirmative action, from their facebrick stronghold in Orania. I’ve always appreciated beautiful irony of oblivious hypocrisy. But I would say that, being a racist kaffir. 

Study notes: The summary of the report, which I did actually read (I was kidding when I claimed not to have). I urge readers to scan this before mouthing off like a dumbass.

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