Popular among black student activists, fallists, and decolonalists is University of Cape Town professor Lwazi Lushaba. Lushaba teaches his political science students that blacks and whites cannot be friends: “I tell them (first year Political Science students), there is no possibility of friendship between you as a Black person and you as a White person” (1).
He also apparently set this as a question in a 2017 exam:
“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.”
Although one can access a strong refutation of Lushaba’s argument at the Rational Standard, there are several reasons why we should view Lushaba’s sentiments in a negative light. First, is that South Africans of all colours and cultures are living in a post-apartheid context where they need to face social challenges together and etch forward a path of racial reconciliation and unity. Lushaba’s teaching sticks a dagger into the heart of these efforts. Second, in what can come across as a lack of respect for the students’ capacity to think and reflect, Lushaba’s phrasing of the question in the exam forces students to agree with him. There is no space for reflection or disagreement and marks will be allocated if students can put to paper their professor’s racist logic. This is a problem for the university because academia is predicated on the ability to disagree with points of view.
Lushaba has made further controversial statements. He has complained that there were “too many white females” in a postgraduate course of his. In a fallist protest, he stated to a black crowd of students that “We’re happy to coexist with white people, but they need to know primarily these institutions belong to us.” But surely no public institution is owned by any one race group and to suggest that this is so, or should be so, is racist. Elsewhere he stated that “we [blacks] will run UCT on our own and give them [whites] a new value system.”
Lushaba still teaches at the University of Cape Town where he lectures in politics. This author has not come across any formal condemning of Lushaba’s sentiments and logic. In fact, one has to dig deeply online to find this information. It is possible that the University of Cape Town has distanced itself from Lushaba, but this is uncertain.
We can also note that the scales are never even. If it were a white professor who taught that his white and black students could not be friends, it would have been condemned in the highest degree. It would have sparked an internal investigation, a suspension, a flurry of media, and perhaps even the SAHRC would get involved. It appears that racism and racists are not treated equally. How a racist will be treated and the repercussions he will depend on his race, which is largely why Lushaba maintains his teaching post to this day despite his racist views.
Tim Crowe. 2018. Taking on UCT’s Fallists in their own vernacular – Tim Crowe. Available.
Benatar, David. 2017. UCT’s climate turns toxic. Available.