30 April 2019
My rejected ‘lived experience’ TIAN ALBERTS
A few weeks ago, I was “summoned” to Student Parliament to “account to” Dagbreek’s Inkululeko: Talking Freedom booklet, which Mr Luke Waltham, Chairman of UNASA Stellenbosch regarded as “problematic”. I was told by the Speaker that I would have 10 minutes to deliver a speech. On Tuesday, upon arrival at Student Parliament it was made very clear by certain members that myself and Dagbreek HK member Rob Kucera were not welcome. After two and a half hours of ranting about procedural issues, personal attacks perpetrated against myself and Rob and verbal threats of violence and harm levelled against me, I left without having had the chance of delivering my speech. Here follows the speech: Mr Speaker, three years and four months ago, I arrived at this University – expectant of all the diverse people that I was going to meet and equally expectant of all the diverse worldviews and perspectives that I would be exposed to. I met many diverse people, but I have with very little exception consistently been exposed by this university and its structures to one singular and generalising perspective: the perspective that your race and gender are determinant of the merits of your arguments, your right to speak on a given topic; the perspective that your skin colour
or gender are indicative of whether you are marginalised or privileged. And if you are put in the category of marginalised by virtue of your identity, you are morally superior to others and your intentions and movements are assumed to be inherently moral. EndRapeCulture was the first movement that I was confronted with on this campus. Myself and many impressionable first year students persistently came to face with the officially endorsed unsubstantiated idea that this campus perpetuates a rape culture (“rape culture” is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized), and this absurdity was solidified by an official task team report of 43 pages which postulates no evidence or confirmation of any rape culture on campus – only dogma and ideology. I opposed the report. I was
heckled at and told by a Senior Director that “you are really going to enjoy our training programmes”. Later, I encountered a booklet called Siyakhula: Talking Transformation. I read through its content, which can be described as an elaboration on critical theory and identity politics – a one sided world view that disregards the individual and imposes identities of oppressed and oppressor on students based on immutable characteristics that they have no control over. To my horror I found a Stellenbosch University logo on the cover. The University’s subsidised Transformation Office was responsible for the publication of this booklet, which amongst other things, deprives all white students of the possible grievance that they might have experienced racism. So what was my response to the Siyakhula? I got a committee together at my residence and we drafted a booklet called Inkululeko: Talking Freedom – to take us back to the values that our Constitution envisages for us and to describe an open society in which the individual is the core unit of value. Although at least two Directors commended the effort and one even remarked that the booklet falls in line with the Transformation Plan of the University, a fringe group of students want to taint this booklet and Dagbreek. And they have been wasting their time.
We hear from them that the Inkululeko-effort “disregards marginalised groups”. “Marginalised group” is of course a category wholly constructed on the basis of melanin and combinations of chromosomes, and not individual circumstances that are indicative of marginalisation. At this point, I would like us to look at some of the concepts that the Inkululeko elaborates on. These are some of the definitions: Racism is defined as the systemic mistreatment experienced by white people in South Africa. Black Privilege is institutional and social (rather than personal) set of unearned benefits granted to black people. This includes having greater access to power, services, opportunities and resources. Actually, you will not find these definitions in Inkululeko at all. The definitions that I have just read stem from Siyakhula – the University’s booklet. I have just replaced the word “black” with the word “white” (and the word white with the word black at the White Privilege definition) to illustrate the absurdity. If you now suddenly endorse these Siyakhula definitions now that races have flipped back, then congratulations – you are a racist. Inkululeko: Talking Freedom’s real message is straight forward: everyone has a right to freely define their own identity as an indi-
vidual. Although there is no credence to this notion of “marginalised people” in so far this category is constructed on the basis of identity, even if such groups existed on campus, we see that unlike the Siyakhula that positions the straight white male as the oppressor, the Inkululeko does not denounce people or groups of people. It denounces a very specific ideology. Criticizing an ideology is not the same as criticizing people or denying their lived experience. No ideology should be exempted from criticism or even ridicule. Why should any booklet protect divisive ideologies such as identity politics? Why should Inkululeko: Talking Freedom spare racial politics the criticism that it deserves? It could not. There will be many more Inkululeko booklets and events on a continued basis. Why? I am determined to leave behind, not the campus that I spoke of that I arrived at 4 years ago. I am determined to leave behind a campus that promotes free debate and intellectual diversity in an open society in which the content of our characters matter more than the colour of our skin or the combination of our chromosomes. I’ll meet you on the other side. Thank you.
*Tian is a postgrad law student. He is also the prim of Dagbreek.
May your mental Game of Thrones: WTAF ? health be your priority LUKE WALTHAM
IT is that time of the year again where exams overwhelm students across campuses, leaving many of us stressed, worried and spending many days and nights studying as much as we possibly can. Whilst this is considered the ‘norm’ at any educational institution, it must be reminded, once again, how important your mental well-being is, especially during these difficult times of the year. Mental Health issues have been affecting our campus, like many others, for various reasons. Students are impacted by it due to personal, circumstantial, societal, financial and academic reasons. The causes of mental illness are endless, but are becoming more prevalent on our campus on the daily. During the exam period, it may be extremely tough for you, and the waves of uncertainty regarding your well-being may be an addition to your stress. I believe it is important to do what you can in managing your stress levels so that you may also have some control over your mental health. Stressors inevitably influence your mental health and therefore will play a role in your overall study schedule. Take breaks. Now I am expecting the usual eye-roller here because people often disregard, or say they already do take breaks. However, taking breaks is crucial to giving your mind a rest. Whether it is going for a walk to the Botanical Gardens, watching something on YouTube or simply
meditating, giving your mind 5-10 minutes off per hour is crucial. Psychologists often recommend exercising in your weekly plan in order to remain physically and mentally active. Don’t forget to socialise. This is the time of the year where you are expected to be locked away in a tower, studying your life away, but do not let that create an imbalance of social interactions. Being able to see a friend for coffee or simply having a time to vent and hang out is always important. If you’re battling during the examination time, do not keep it to yourself. It will fester and eat away at you.Your diet matters. You may have heard someone saying this to you before, but keep it in mind to eat properly during the study period. During stressful periods, people tend to either not eat at all or they will eat, but it will be too much junk food. If you feel that you fall into either category, consider adding a nutritional eating plan to your study plan. A healthy mind is the epitome of an overall healthy person. I know these exams are bound to stress you out, and you may be worried. But you are not alone. The entire Stellenbosch community is in this together, and it is vital that we watch out for one another. I wish you all the best and remember: your mental health is more important than the percentage on your exam paper. *Luke Waltham is an activist, blogger and writer. He is also the Chairperson of the United Nations Association of South Africa, Stellenbosch Chapter.
GAME OF THRONES season eight has seen numerous disappointed fans. Regardless of the questionable writing we have witnessed thus far, viewers, including myself, are in hope of a miraculous season finale to make up for all the ‘wtf’ moments we’ve encountered. One of these moments include the death of one of the greatest, most conniving and dangerous villains television has ever seen – Cersei Lannister. Yes, her death was highly disappointing. Yes, she should’ve died in a more torturous manner, and yes, she did not deserve to die in the arms of the person she loved. But maybe the writers were trying to prove some other point – the bad guy, or in this case the evil queen, doesn’t always get the death he/she deserves. The same can be said about her dwarf brother, Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion has been, by far, the smartest character throughout the entire series and suddenly, this season, he decides to be one of the most short-sighted (no pun intended) characters. This too, is highly disappointing and frustrating, as we all know never to trust a single word Cersei says, and it was very much evident Daenerys Targaryen was losing her marbles. Then again, it could be said that the writers were perhaps trying to humanise Tyrion – not everyone can be brilliantly smart twenty-four-seven.
Another aspect we can criticise is how the writers have managed to disregard the majority of our favourite characters’ character development this season. What was the point of Jamie Lannister realising that Cersei was a horrible person, leaving Kings’ Landing, ending up with Brienne for one night and joining the resistance against the Night King? All for him to run back to her, rendering his entire story arc null-and-void. Perhaps this was a piece of advice for those who keep running back to their exes, regardless of how toxic the relationship is – you will die a pathetic death. Again, after all the King in the North has been through, including resurrection and dragon-screaming, Jon Snow has become a high profile secondary character with no meaningful contribution to the overall narrative of this season. The episode did have some positives though. We’ve come a long way from the grainy aes-
thetic of season one, and it is only fair to mention the magnificent cinematography. In this episode we witnessed some of the most beautiful shots the small screen has ever seen. From the beautiful encounter between Sandor and The Mountain, to Arya Stark and the white stallion, we can see that more thought was put into the cinematography than the actual writing of this episode. Nonetheless, the second last episode leaves many questions unanswered. What is the purpose of Bran and his supposed powers? Who are the children of the forest and why have they not been incorporated into any narrative this season? Will they be able to answer all of our questions in a single episode? Find out on the next, and final, episode of the most disappointing season of the century. *Jessica is a BA Journalism Hons student.
Agt-en-sewentigste jaargang, nommer sewe.