On South African universities, the present historical moment and the task of decolonisation

As many across the country (and increasingly, others across the world), are insisting, free education and an insourced staff body are crucially important to the project of decolonising higher education. Colonialism and its masks – apartheid and the neo-apartheid/neo-colonial contemporary situation – have insisted for so long that education is a privilege for Black people. They have suggested that Black people’s education is not a priority. Black people have been considered for too long optional add-ons to the university. Black workers are not add-ons to the university. Black students are not add-ons to the university. Black academics are not add-ons to the university.

We are the university.

What we are saying with our collective voice, is that we were not born in this country to be considered add-ons. We were not born in this country to be made to feel inferior in our own universities. What we are saying is that these are OUR universities.

We will continue to demand our right to space, our right to Azania House, our right to Solomon House. We will decolonise our universities because they are ours. We are not here on borrowed time or by any favour of white supremacy. We are also not here to learn how to assimilate to, or administer the system of white supremacy- indeed we must fight this impulse of colonial education. We must not become collaborators.

In these moments of fervor, when the revolutionary spirit is flowing in abundance, let us remember that our project is far greater than our immediate demands. We are here for the long haul. To liberate our minds and contribute to projects that will contribute to the liberation of our country, and ALL of our people. So while we will force the university managers and the government technocrats to respond positively to our demands, let us not lose sight of the long-term project…

We are here to decolonise our minds in service of our people.

Let us unleash the Black imagination. Unleash the Black imagination imagine anew what a university might be. What might a centre of learning centred on the daily realities, needs and struggles of the most oppressed in our society look like? What might a space of learning look like that has one staff body without the false separation of manual and intellectual labour, when we start to understand that all people are intellectual beings? What types of knowledges might emerge, what types of intellectuals might emerge, what types of history might we learn?

What types of history might we write?

These are the questions we should be asking to liberate our minds, that should frame our action in the present. Let us keep this in our mind so that we always remember that we are moving toward something new. We are creating a new revolutionary movement. We are going to create a new university. We are going to create a new revolutionary society. This is our historical task and we must see it through to its logical conclusion.

With that in mind, we must continue to act concretely in the present based on our understanding of the present historical juncture.

Forward to free education, forward!

Forward to insourced workers, forward!

Forward to a single staff body, forward!


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