The last week and a half has been a constant heated re-iteration of South Africa's intermittent stance against hatred and racism of any kind. the situation was sparked off when 4 Free State university students had created a racist video tape in which the university cleaning staff are seen eating food which had been urinated on by one of the students. Other acts were also shown where the cleaning staff were exploited in this manner and treated in a horrible and racist manner. The students have since been unrepentant, making excuses for their actions despite the incident being widely condemned by various institutions and political parties including their own hostel residence which has apologised for the racist video.
There is a scene by scene breakdown of the video here.
The South African blogosphere has in turn erupted over this issue and here are the highlights…
As a white person, I am ashamed that some white people – like these – deem it necessary to act in such an inhumane and cruel way. People like these go against everything that Msanzi stands for. It shows flagrant disregard for our constitution and creates the incorrect perception that all white people are racists. The time has come for white people around South Africa to unite against evil such as this.
South Africa is NOT a country for racists. My message to anyone who deems to do anything that promotes the notion of racism: “Get out of my country and stay out!”
Those ‘darlings’ of UFS need to be need to be punished, harshly. My blood runs cold as I think of how these boys – boys because men would not behave as such – bullied and bribed the cleaners. I have heard people call it simple initiation, but really this is not initiation – the video was made in the wake of residence integration, it depicted a MOCK initiation, what they would do should they be forced to accept people of colour into the residence.
Although the women involved have since come out and said they were not forced they admitted they did not know what they were doing it for. The question now arises why did they participate? Well if you are a mere cleaner surrounded by rich and powerful young men who may or may not have ignored them, or treated them poorly, would you not be a little flattered if they suddenly asked you to do something with them, would the sudden ‘friendly’ attention and promises of whiskey not entice you?
I do agree their targeting the cleaners and the matter they were ‘protesting’ against was racially motivated, but racism is a social condition not a political soapbox.
Ironically the father of one of the students lashed out at the media for its coverage of the issue, saying the matter had been blown out of proportion and his son's rights had been prejudiced, as he had not even had a hearing yet. He also said the boys had not had an opportunity to explain. Well they have had the opportunity, once they were named their lawyers handled the comment.
Since the father spoke out there are a few things I have been wondering.
1. Regardless of the motivation behind the video, how would he feel if he saw his wife or daughter in a video as such. A video where black men are pretending to pee into her food, a video where she is called a whore, and made to appear of little worth, pathetic and completely subservient to those men making it? Would he not be screaming from the roof tops, in all the papers?
2. Is there anything to blow out of proportion? If my sister, mother or aunt were those videoed by your son and his friends, well I would be after them with all the force I can summon. What they did was wrong. People need to admit it! Stop protecting him, stop making him into the victim, rather admit his actions were wrong and let him learn from the errors of his ways! That is what a parent or friend is being about!
3. Do does anyone feel what they did was right, if so do than maybe they should look at themselves, wonder what sort of person they are, and take a good look at what morals they have taught their children. Rather fix the mess on your doorstep and maybe everyone will stop talking about it.
It has been a dark week in South Africa and for once it has nothing to do with the local energy supplier. A racist video has surfaced and negative images have flashed across the globe and the international media have turned on the country saying that our purported “transformation” is only a façade. The country is hurting.
It seems that not all of South Africa has welcomed in a multiracial, non-racist society. And this, after 14 years of the end of Apartheid, shows us that complete change does take time, and even then you will have the fringe of society who push the boundaries of decency and everything else. The South African Parliament has since condemned all acts of racism and sexism in the country saying they have the potential to undermine the constitution of the country. This condemnation apart from the racist video also included a recent attack on a woman simply because she was wearing a miniskirt. Not many SA Bloggers had picked up on the issue though.