OUT TO LUNCH
You can always tell when it’s the beginning of the academic year in South Africa. Scores of fresh faced young students eagerly clutching notebooks and making their way quietly to lectures.
They know they are privileged to have won a place at university to study subjects that guarantee them certain employment in industries that will contribute to the country’s stratospheric economic growth.
They realize that they are the elite of society and that the only reason they are attending university is because of their superb matric marks. The prospect of several years of hard study does not daunt them because they fully understand that in a competitive world South Africa must produce the finest minds if it is to survive.
Their selflessness and dedication will lead them on to further studies and instill in them a desire to share their knowledge with generations yet to come.
Sorry… not sure what happened there. Mrs B must have slipped something into the coffee this morning. Let’s try again …
You can always tell when it’s the beginning of the academic year in South Africa. Scores of rampaging youths on campus demanding that their past tuition debts be cancelled, that somebody else pay for their accommodation, that future tuition fees be cancelled, that they all be given laptops (obviously MacBook Airs at R22 000 a pop), that free internet connectivity be provided, that the Minister for Higher Education be sacked and that registration be continued indefinitely so that anyone who fancies a few years at university can realize their dream, irrespective of matric grades. Refuse these demands and the universities will be shutdown.
I had a look at some of the footage of the dancing, chanting mob at UCT invading the Kramer Building and and felt at one with my PolWeb fellow columnist Phumlani M. Majozi when he writes “It really is heart-breaking to see South Africa, a country that once had huge potential, continuously in decline.”
Then a student ‘spokesman’ came on and he was sporting an EFF beret and suddenly everything made sense.
What we old fogies need to understand is that attending university is no longer about getting a decent degree that might get you through to the first round of interviews with a large corporate looking for future high-flyers.
It’s no longer about spending three or more years exploring ideas, improving your mind and engaging in lively debate, often with people you disagree with, on the off-chance that some of your opinions might change as a result. It’s not about respecting lecturers and listening to what they have to say on the basis that the very reason they are lecturers is presumably that they have knowledge to impart.
That’s all old hat now. What it’s all about now is identity politics, entitlement and assumed victimhood. It really doesn’t matter what course you sign up for which is why whacky subjects like Gender Studies and Intersectionalist Literature are taught with a straight face by Marxist lecturers to gullible students who believe that employers will be welcoming them with open arms when they graduate.
It’s no longer about listening to opinions and engaging in debate. Today’s skill is all about recognizing those who may have ‘problematic’ opinions and de-platforming them before they have an opportunity to infect young minds with their politically unacceptable ideas.
It’s about demanding safe spaces on campus where you can go and cuddle a kitten if somebody says something that upsets you. It’s about bullying the academic and administrative staff until they are so frightened of your power that they will eventually relent and agree to your ‘pass one, pass all’ demands.
If you try and explain that in the bad old days many ambitious young people who wanted to further their education would take part time jobs to pay the fees you will as likely as not be met with a glazed look of boredom and a ‘whatever’.
The only reason kids from homes that didn’t have a lot of spare cash for university did that is that they weren’t bright enough to band together and set fire to university buildings or topple statues. Today’s university student knows that a little thuggery goes a long way.
Which brings me back to the EFF beret wearing spokesman. It has been a lean year for the EFF as it has for all of us locked down under Covid.
We all know that what the EFF really excel at is smashing up branches of H&M or Clicks and those opportunities have been sadly lacking of late. Which is why it’s no surprise to see the EFF helping organize the chaos at universities. It is their core competence after all. They have never been known to create anything of worth or to come up with a single good idea to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans.
In addition this VBS business isn’t going away so the EFF, rather like a cornered badger, has to lash out at something. And what better than to tell a bunch of dumb kids who probably shouldn’t be at university anyway that you have access to a magic money tree which will provide free education for all. Should you wish to extend your studies for an extra few years in the event of not being able to find a job then don’t worry; that too will be paid for. Oh … and what colour MacBook did you want by the way?
But let me not be too judgmental. Let me be open to the ideas of others in the hope that my own bigotry can be exorcised. Of course free university education is possible, even in a country which by it’s own admission is broke.
All that needs to happen is for the university to be provided with limitless free electricity, to have free petrol for the student busses (and free replacement busses obviously), not to have to pay anything for municipal services, to have a free and unlimited supply of potable water and to not need to pay any lecturers, admin staff, cleaners, gardeners or security staff.
As ever, the simplest solutions are often the best. I know the EFF will agree with me. Let’s see how the Vice-Chancellors take it.
Just when you think we have the monopoly on batshit crazy politicians in this country up pops Baroness Jenny Jones of Moulescoomb. She is a member of the leftist Green Party in the UK and is one of two party members in the House of Lords. The party has only one sitting member in the House of Commons.
Following last week’s abduction and murder of Sarah Everard she suggested during a House of Lords debate that a solution to gender based violence in the UK would be for a 6pm curfew to be imposed on all men.
Not surprisingly this has been greeted with howls of protests and not just from men. Women who have a social life after 6pm may need somebody to meet the kiddies from ballet class at 7pm.
Normally this would be Daddy but if Daddy sets foot outside the house after 6pm WPC Plod the Policewoman (Remember: no men on the streets after 6pm) will have to arrest him for breaking curfew. Baroness Jones didn’t specify at what time men would be allowed back onto the streets but I’m guessing it will be early morning, depending on when the sun rises.
Obviously this ban on toxic masculinity roaming the streets of London during the hours of darkness is going to have many beneficial knock on effects apart from keeping women safe. Job opportunities for female Tube train drivers, 24-hour plumbers, taxi drivers and pizza delivery persons are bound to increase.
And when the theatres eventually open in London’s West End we can look forward to all female performances of such classics as ‘The Boys in the Band’ and ‘Henry V’ performed, for obvious reasons, in front of an all female audience. Presumably the male cast members will only be able to perform the matinees.
Brilliant though this idea is I do foresee problems in our brave new Woke world. For example, will this curfew apply to everyone sporting a penis or will Trans-Women be exempt? Now we are all free to select our gender preference from an extended menu of options what happens if somebody who is obviously a man at 17h59 decides to identify as a woman at 18h01.
Will the law be able to do anything about it? These are questions that only a Guardian columnist is qualified to answer.
I contacted the British Consulate last week to ask if they were planning a ‘Give an ex-pat pom a COVID jab’ initiative since things seem to be going so well over on Airstrip One. I got an almost immediate reply along the lines of “you chose to live there mate ... suck it up”- but not in those exact words.
Given that we’ve only managed around 150 000 jabs in the past month I reckon that if I jump the queue, I might be lucky enough to get the vaccine in around 15 years. Not soon enough to get on a plane to London for my 80th alas but at least we should have a good idea of any side effects by then.