“What school won’t teach you”

steve biko

“There is no place for [the Bantu] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour … What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice?” Hendrik Verwoerd

One of the most lethal segregation tactics of the apartheid government was the passing of the Bantu Education Act in 1953 which segregated schools racially  and saw government withdraw their financial support for black schools. The minister of Native Affairs and dubbed the “architect of apartheid” Hendrik Verwoerd believed withholding education from blacks was necessary because black youths sole purpose was to work as slave laborers for white South Africans. South African white supremacists knew that the best way to obliterate the hopes of black people was to oppress the mind of a black child. By doing so that could extend their rule of oppression for generations to come. This view point was expressed eloquently by Steve Biko in his infamous quote:

“The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.

Fast forward to 2015, populating schools, business, work force, universities, hospitals and clinics are educated blacks who enjoy the freedom that leaders of the liberation struggle fought for to have equal education. However there has been a recent rampage by South African Newspapers to “expose” high profile South Africans which include those who have a rich history in playing an active role in the liberation struggle. They declare our leaders as being ill equipped to perform their duties because they lack basic and tertiary education qualifications. South Africans who have celebrated and cheered the downfall of such leaders, seem to have a collective amnesia of the role our leaders paid to afford the qualification that many gloat about today. It is unimaginable that any young South Africans can look at any of these heroes with envy and contempt for the success and lifestyle the live today, and decide that what they have is less than what they deserve. More shameful are black universities such as the University of Limpopo, The University of Forthare, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – in fact all higher education learning institutions who fail to see the gap and play their roles in dignifying these leaders with the accolades they deserve. Surely an honorary doctorate would be more than fitting to show gratitude to the contributions of such legends to our country’s rich history, sadly some South Africans fit neatly in the popular adage adopted from the modern Spiderman 2 film: Everybody loves a hero, but everybody likes nothing more than to see a hero fall.   

To those hero’s whose lives are ridiculed and shamed. I salute the incredible work you have done to afford many of us the education you fought for us to have. Your struggle became my freedom, your tears led to our victory your knowledge is a wealth of education, beyond the wall of what any school can teach.