University of Free State saga: lesson in tolerance

2 03 2008

So drags on the University of Free State saga! I finally watched the video this morning and I was repulsed. There has to be a degree of inhumanity(if there even is such a word) that motivates the kind of behaviour the students in the video show. What troubles me the most is what the UFS administration had done and failed to do before the video was leaked and caused a media outcry. The video has apparently been on the university’s website since September last year- a whole 6 months, which begs a plethora of questions: Did the university condone the gross violations of human dignity prior to the media exposure? I am however, pleased that the University itself is going to be investigated for their part in the whole saga(source: http://www.thetimes.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=715581). Two of the students have since apologised, saying they were not acting with malice and that it was all play acted(http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7-1442_2279832,00.html). I am deeply concerned at the fact that a apology is being expected to suffice but also that treating people as if they were sub human(even in jest) is intended to funny. But this whole incident is a lesson in being politically correct, which is what South Africans are striving to do. You cannot force integration and tolerance on people and integration cannot be applied uniformly in the entire country. Apartheid as a political institution ended 14 years ago but the entire country is grappling with being ‘a rainbow nation’ and getting over the names we called(and continue to call) each other because of the size of our melanocytes(the cells that give skin its colour). No amount of policy can liberate a people, dialogue and honesty and maybe a little more being blunt does that. The students need to learn a hard lesson in human dignity and what is and isn’t funny. The entire university community of South Africa and the world need to examine what kind environments they are creating. The government needs to start approaching integration at all social levels as a process, not a quota on a page.

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