Wed. Oct 28th, 2020

Diary of a mad black student: I won’t vote this year

Boitumelo Oliphant on the tragedy of hopelessness facing young black South Africans.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Owing to the legacy of Apartheid, South Africa remains a very racially skewed country and the student population is no exception.

This has produced the vast preponderance of white graduates and a disproportionately small number of black graduates. To realise aid in gaining access and success in higher education requires a nexus of policies at federal, state, local, and institutional levels.

The purpose of this article is not to propose recommendations or inform best practices for the betterment of the poor black child. The intent is to echo the black student’s frustrations and unmet aspirations loud enough to alarm the bureaucrats, politburos, muggles, barons, and thieves of our hard-earned legacy.

Should you continue to neglect our voice, there will be shedding and this time it will not be in stages. 

The issue of race

One of Biko’s long-standing questions was whether the position of black people was a deliberate creation of God or an artificial fabrication of truth by power-hungry people whose motive was authority, security and comfort.

Biko perceived that this anomaly was a deliberate creation of man. In his diagnosis, Biko clarified that the colour question in South African politics was initially introduced for economic reasons. A barrier was created between blacks and whites that saw whites enjoying privileges at the expenses of blacks and this lead to an unjustifiable white entitlement and non-existent black inferiority.

According to Biko, Black inferiority was nonexistent because it only existed in white people’s minds; untraceable in reality. Biko emphasized that the issue of race had gone beyond white economic greed and had become a serious problem on its own. White people were starting to despise black people, not because they needed to reinforce their attitude and so justify their position of privilege, but actually believed that blacks were inferior and bad, hence racism was then institutionalized to make it look like the South African way of life (Biko, 1981).

The current government (ANC) had a different approach to solving the racism issue then. The ANC policies were different from those of Black Consciousness. When negotiations were held in 1994, a few compromises were made to ensure the smooth running of the transition. The white minority were provided entitlement to possessions that they unduly benefited from at the expense of their black counterparts. This led to a series of events purporting black frustration that has seen the downturn of liberation in South Africa.

All these efforts have done little to
nothing to redress the contemporary disparities between black students and
their white counterparts. And this time, it is not whites’ fault

Here is the narrative. Most of the public schools fall within quintile one and two schools. This, essentially, means these schools are under-resourced, lacking the necessary social capital one requires to topple the status quo.

Key subjects like mathematics are no longer compulsory pass requirement and even if a learner enrols in these, they are set at a less than favourable and universal benchmark (<50%).

Teachers can move between subjects as and when it is fitting, as the subjects are salaried at different brackets. The principal is lured to increase school populace without concurrently increasing capacity as more numbers mean more monitory gains.

One teacher accounts for an average of 60 to 70 learners in a classroom, compromising the integrity of learning and teaching; as if that is not enough, you now have an option to drop a subject in grade 12 and the pass rates have been reduced to 30% for most subjects. Talk about a failing education system.

This is on a school level, once you “complete” matric, the learner is now faced with another type of a problem.

Problems facing the youth of South Africa

Youth unemployment averages 56% currently, with the undergraduate unemployment rate at 34% (Stats SA). The vast majority of the matric graduates will not gain access to South African universities; most will be sitting down and looking for jobs, which will increase fertility among youth (unwanted pregnancies/children) which may increase infant mortality, abortions; crime and frustration among the youth will increase.

Dare not talk about the ineptitude of the police force – doors opened to nullify and render the voice of justice obsolete. For those who were able to, at least, get to university, a significant number will be financially or academically excluded, some will drop out because of other responsibilities.

For those who got through to, and finished their respective degrees, 34% of these will not get employed, and those that manage to reach the least quantile of feat and glory at the peak of the pyramid, corporate racial differences become eminent and the theme “survival of the fittest” becomes a way of life.

The tragedy

If you are lucky enough, policies and regulations like affirmative action/ BEE, now called BBBEE, may work in your favour. Therefore, what are the odds? 05:2 black youth will make it in life. Isn’t that a tragedy? Yet we are encouraged to vote, vote for what?

The only time youth should vote is when the
path to walk has been cleared.

To Nelson Mandela, Madiba, I say:

“Let the grave embrace your aroma my leader, for you have served your mandate and let us make you proud today as we live your dream. Amandla Awetu”

But I won’t vote, not today!

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