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Xolela Mangcu Identifies 2 Main Differences Between Fees Must Fall and the 1980s Student Protests

The Colour of Our FutureThe Arrogance of PowerBiko

Xolela Mangcu has written a piece looking at the similarities and differences between Fees Must Fall and the student protests of the the 1980s – specifically in the role assumed by business – “by way of personal reflection”.

Mangcu recalls when he and his fellow students closed down Wits University in 1985, and the motto “student-worker solidarity” was coined.

He also confesses to “some jealousy as the students ‘usurped’ a role I had thought belonged only to the memories of my generation”.

Mangcu, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town, says he sees two main differences between then and now, the vital difference being “the absence of the big-hearted liberalism”.

Read the article:

A few months ago, I was invited to a conversation with a delegation from Yale University to share my views on the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign at the University of Cape Town.

I told the delegation I could see only two differences between the current generation of activists and our generation.

The first difference is that the policy issues the students are dealing with now — decolonising the curriculum, changing the composition of the professoriate and finding money for free higher education — are far more complex than bringing down an oppressive regime.

The second difference is the absence of the big-hearted liberalism of those three men who interviewed me and allowed me to define my own way with their money.
The absence of enlightened liberalism cuts across the business community and the university sector in SA.

What we have instead are business leaders who are penny-pinchers and university vice-chancellors who are more adept at disciplinary measures against students than in understanding where they are coming from and where they might want to go.

Where are those visionary leaders now?

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