Statue of Rhodes, University of Cape Town

State of urgency: The Humanities in South Africa (AHHE 15.1)AHHEcrop

Njabulo Ndebele ‘To be or not to be, no longer at ease’. Novelist, former vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, and academic, Njabulo Ndebele is one of the most respected voices in contemporary South Africa.  In his contribution, Ndebele puts his finger on the sore point at the heart of the successive waves of student protest across the country, and writes of the consequences of how ‘I and my generation were without choice educated in a schooling environment that in its content oriented us away intellectually from our formative environments of home and community’.  This education resulted in dangerously high levels of alienation as ‘our progressive imaginations progressively got anchored elsewhere’, with the immediate consequence that ‘our own immediate world’ became ‘less real’.  At the same time, he suggests that in the growing and visible corruption of the Zuma regime and the new black ruling classes, we are observing the psychic and material dynamics of a situation in which ‘where there may once have been the inner pain of self-degradation, there is now an inner sense of entitlement’.

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