After four years of hard study I recently got accepted into my second choice honours program at UCT, religious studies. However, I, as a white South African man, have become increasingly tentative about attending the institution given the anti-white hate that’s manifested itself on its campuses over recent years. Michael Morris, the head of Media at the Institute of Race Relations, explains some of the troubling black on white racism at the university (1).
This includes a 2015 episode in which black protesters wore T-shirts that read “fuck white people,” a 2015 Rhodes Must Fall protest movement in which black protesters chanted “One Settler One Bullet,” and a peculiar 2017 exam question stating: “Write detailed notes on race and racism. In your answer, take care to specify the reasons for the impossibility of friendship between blacks and whites.” 2017 also saw students held a “blacks only” mass meeting in their quest to “decolonise” the UCT law faculty. In June this year, the UCT winter school programme declared that only “Persons of Colour” would be able to attend dinners, as they needed a space to “decompress.” We now have a student, Mlandu Masixole, who penned a thesis (entitled: “The Coloniser/Colonised dialectic: A look into the Settler-Colonialism as a socio-economic order of South Africa”) concluding with a slogan advocating the genocide of whites of whom he refers to as “settlers.” Masixole’s thesis ended with the slogan: ““ONE SETTLER‚ ONE BULLET!!”
The “ONE SETTLER‚ ONE BULLET’ is a slogan associated with the struggle against apartheid and can be traced to the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) of Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in the 1980s. It is quite astonishing that it is still used almost 25 years into democracy and despite the fact that PAC officials have distanced themselves from it given its ability to harm reconciliatory efforts between blacks and whites. In South Africa the term “settler” is a derogatory term for members of the country’s white population, and the slogan thus constitutes a call for the physical elimination of all members of this group (2). This is most unsettling given unequivocal genocidal statements stated against whites by leaders in the political organizations of EFF and BLF.
Unfortunately, UCT vice-chancellor, Mamokgethi Phakeng, praised the thesis, and only after receiving some kickback revised her praise to include just the fact that Masixole had completed his work (3).
Phakeng’s retract is dubious (she was certainly aware of the slogan’s inclusion) and it remains shocking that she would commend a paper with a slogan advocating genocide. Most astonishing, however, is that this paper had to pass through a multi-level supervision process. It had to go through a supervisor, of whom is named on Masixole’s contents page, independent review marking, and other channels. How this slogan transitioned through these channels without correction is befuddling although perhaps by judging the substandard grammar of the thesis this might not be as surprising as initially perceived.
As I learnt through an acquaintance on social media, Masixole later reveled in self-satisfaction of offending white South Africans in a tweet of his only to remove it soon after. Whites, however, are well in their rights to be offended by such a slogan and its inclusion in a thesis at a leading tertiary institution. Whites are well within their rights to feel saddened that if the roles were reversed, if it were a white student concluding his paper with similar remarks against blacks, that he would have been condemned by certain political parties, face legal action, and be expelled from the university. Where is this sort of condemnation for Masixole? It shouldn’t only be whites who are offended by this. All South Africans across the racial spectrum ought to be, and they should say so.
Masixole’s hate speech isn’t particularly surprising, however. He was part of a protest movement in which he defaced the bust of Jan Smuts above the entrance to Smuts Hall in 2016 (4). Among the slogans he wrote on this monument were: ‘FUCK WHITE PEOPLE!!’ and ‘FUCK BLACK EXCLUSION’, ‘1652 MUST GO!!’, ‘UCT IS A SITE OF CONQUEST’ and ‘UCT IYAKAKA MOER!’
Morris explains that despite UCT distancing itself from the inclusion of the slogan within Masixole’s thesis, “UCT has been bullied into this position, and it has capitulated in turn. Its failure to take a hard line on the hate that now festers on its campus, its pandering to student unrest and violence and its refusal to recommend or uphold meaningful consequences for those students who break the law in the name of intolerance, has taught its students one simple and clear lesson: if you want to express hate, UCT is the place for you.”
1. Morris, M. 2018. UCT becoming an epicenter for hate and intolerance – IRR. Available.
2. PoliticsWeb. 2018. UCT: “One settler, one bullet” thesis stirs disquiet. Available.
3. Gous, N. 2018. UCT vice-chancellor praises student for work signed off with ‘one settler‚ one bullet.’ Available.
4. PoliticsWeb. 2018. Ibid.