It is a relevant topic of discussion and somewhat of an idea thrown around by many South Africans and in particular, students at Universities and that is the decolonizing of Universities within South Africa, and in this particular instance, decolonizing Stellenbosch University. But what would this entail.
In essence, we as a country, have been decolonized (broken away from a colony) yet the term floats around within our very own boarders. It all draws back to Apartheid.
Many a black South African were oppressed and for many years. Restrictions, sanctions and laws governed many a black South Africans and in result many of the oppressed still experience the aftermath.
I am all for equality and the systems that need to be put in place to ensure this, and I thrive on the possibility that such systems will be implemented. But to me, we need to look at such ways in a realistic point of view.
For me, Stellenbosch University still echoes Apartheid. Afrikaans is all around us, and yes, Stellenbosch is historically and Afrikaans town, but calling ourselves a nation of equality would mean ‘splitting our historical representation.
I however feel that the current drive for free tertiary education is quite clearly not possible. Our current government do not have adequate funding for such massive endeavours. I do believe however, that there at many things around the university and associating the university can be changed.
Decolonising Stellenbosch University would entail the possible removal of symbols and statues or predecessors, especially those who were active in the time of apartheid.
The names “Koshuis, Rooiplein and Biblioteek” are all Afrikaans terms making Stellenbosch University seem as if it were built exclusively for white students. This may have been the case in the past but now needs to be changed or even translated, if we see ourselves as a nation striving for equality.
Ultimately, I see very little evidence and acknowledgement of Black History around campus.
It is a state of mind that needs not to be exploited, but I feel that decolonising, to an extent, is possible, but the thought of radical student groups taken over and important bodies in the university and by means of revenge, would put this our “Decolonized University” back into a so called “single cultured mind-set”.
The sad reality is that this is a constant struggle amongst different cultural backgrounds and until common ground is found, the problems will continue to erupt.