Stellenbosch University students protest, following urine incident. Photo by

By Themba Khumalo

The dehumanisation of black people in South Africa was galvanised by the National Party via a series of anti-black and pro-white laws. Every piece of legislation was designed to reinforce apartheid’s creation of the system of discrimination.
The system gave white people absolute power to manipulate and damage an entire people’s civilisation for their gain. Dehumanisation of indigenous people is something that did not begin overnight. It commenced when the first Dutch settlers set foot on our shores in the Cape.
These heartless thugs, who represented the Dutch East India Company, began plotting how to cunningly gain access to our resources. In the long run, assisted by the British, the settlers were able to conquer and enslave black people while appropriating our land.
This, over the years, enabled white people to amass wealth and privilege. It is this white privilege that allows the continuation of overt and covert racism.
With the advent of democracy, we made the dangerous assumption that big change would happen. Well, that has not been the case because racial inequality is palpably impervious to transformation – a result of the failure to challenge white privilege.
In our country, white privilege is the legacy of apartheid, which oppressed, subjugated and dehumanised people whose skin colour was rich with melanin. Even with the political end of apartheid in 1994, white privilege still endures. Any demands to transform institutions, which have race as a social construct, are regarded as threats by whites. They oppose demands for transformation because in their heads, they imagine the demands for racial justice as an end to their privilege.
One Monday morning in May, we woke up to a trending video clip of a white student, Theuns du Toit, taking a pee on the belongings of a black student, Babalo Ndwayana, at Stellenbosch University.
Ndwayana was asleep “when he heard a noise in his room”.
According to a student union: “When he woke up, the racist white boy was urinating on his desk, books and laptop and when questioned, the racist response was, ‘this is what we do to black boys’.”
Apparently, this not the first pee incident to happen at the university, we missed the one that happened in 2018 because it was not filmed.
Do you remember the pee-and-beer incident at Reitz men’s residence at the University of the Free State? In 2008, white students mixed their urine with beer and forced cleaners to drink it as they sang Afrikaner songs. These numbskulls, filled with ancient hatred, recorded the humiliation of the black people with a commentary telling the majestic story of Afrikaner paradise before the introduction of what they termed “forced integration”.
Du Toit, who probably is used to being a kleinbaas, who sees black people as hewers of wood and drawers of water, is a stuck reminder that there are white people who think they were born to have power over black people. With his pee, like a beast from the wild, he was marking his territory in a place which he reckoned belonged to another kleinbaas.
White privilege compelled him to display his jungle civilisation by peeing on the belongings of a fellow student whose offence was being black in what should be a white university.
With his pee, the racist and socially inept dunderhead, sought to remind us that Stellenbosch is, and has always been, the bastion of white, Afrikaner culture and needs to remain like that in the democratic new South Africa. Stellenbosch University produced loads of leaders of the National Party, who were the master architects of apartheid.
Du Toit just cannot figure out in his pee-brain, why an institution that trained all apartheid’s presidents should be burdened with black bodies. Stellenbosch, according to him and his ilk, is hallowed ground. It is also the soul of the Broederbond.

Luister (Listen) is a documentary that was produced in 2015 to expose racism and discrimination at Stellenbosch University.
The documentary was made in 17 days by Contraband Cape Town, together with Open Stellenbosch. After its release on 20 August, it trended on social media nation-wide and elicited condemnation from political parties and the general public.
One of the students in the film said: “The colour of my skin in Stellenbosch is like a social burden… I mean just walking into spaces, there’s that stop, pause, and stare where people cannot believe that you would enter into this space.
“Being black within the Stellenbosch community you know that you’re not accepted and you kind of ask yourself: what’s wrong with me, like what did I do wrong?” says another.
“In the beginning I actually started to assimilate, you know, wanting to lose myself and attain whiteness. Maybe this will work better and they’ll accept me more because I’m trying to be like them. And I realised that I cannot do that. I’m not willing to sell my soul to whiteness. I have to be proudly black.”

Socio-economic freedom for a few is hollow
White South Africans continue to keep hold of economic, social and cultural power. They enjoy a significantly better standard of living and quality of life than black people.
Even though numerically we are a majority, as black people, we are still a social and economic minority.
There are blind denialists who, when they open their purchased mouths, quote figures that they insist reflect rising levels of black ownership on the Joburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
To rely on this this single pointer is disingenuous.
This diverts our attention to other important pointers that are crucial in identifying the stranglehold that white capital has over our country’s economy.
The limited focus on the JSE disregards the fact that the stock market forms but one of the many facets of capital. Other factors include land, which is one of the most contentious means of production, mines, banks, home ownership and human capital which comes in the forms of knowledge, skills and education.
A comprehensive probe into the state of the South African economy easily reveals that white people continue to dominate the economy.
As the legacy of white privilege continues to thrive, levels of poverty and rampant unemployment relentlessly rise in black communities.
South Africans are good at calling out obvious racists – the ones who call black people names or abuse them. But the country is still poor at naming and changing the core of racism. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is that the way things were organised under white rule is so deeply embedded in everyone’s minds that the past three decades have been devoted largely to absorbing black people into the system rather than changing it. Since the system was designed for a few, most remain on the outside looking in.
We can shout at the symptoms of racism until our voices are hoarse but if we do not dismantle the system, the underlying problem will remain untouched.

A peep at racism
Racism, as we have come to know it, goes far beyond the phenotypic difference. In fact, if we were to further unpack it, we would realise how race acts a synecdoche for humanhood and a metonym for a number of South Africa’s difficulties.
Race is, as Stuart Hall, whose writings enjoy international acclaim, states: “one of those major or master concepts that organise the great classificatory systems of difference that operate in human societies. Race, in this sense, is the centrepiece of a hierarchical system that produces differences.”
This hierarchical system has wreaked untold socio-economic problems. The system that regulated the distribution of wealth, based on skin colour, is deeply embedded in our psyche so much that for the past 28 years there has been a great devotion to absorbing blacks into the system instead of transforming it.
White privilege is the main driver of racial inequality. Unless we develop balls of steel, we will still be peed on because we have no power.

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