Violence against tertiary science continues in South Africa
The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, has once again been the scene of a renewed outbursts of public violence with a bus and a police vehicle being torched by hordes of rioting Africans demanding the “decolonization” of tersiary curricula and the abolition of all tuition fees.
Published: October 26, 2016, 11:43 am
Although many claim to “students” from the tersiary institutions affected, many are not.
According to the News24 news service, fire fighters attending to the burning bus and police vehicle in Braamfontein at the University’s campus, were forced to withdraw after the Africans started stoning them while they were trying to put out the fires.
The Africans had earlier set up roadblocks on the main road, Jan Smuts Avenue, next to the university, and stoned unsuspecting passing motorists.
At the University of Cape Town, two African fallist leaders [from the movement #ScienceMustFall/#FeesMustFall] were arrested, including one who had been detained for the third time since the start of the protests, while several cars were torched around the campus.
The acts of arson and vandalism are a result of Africans who have taken issue with the science faculty, and science in general.
Science as it is currently understood is “colonial” and ought to be abolished, Africans on campus feel. At a meeting on the pressing issue, students gathered to air their grievances with some claiming that witchcraft holds just as much merit as Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity— they are both ways of explaining the world.
At a panel discussion in October‚ published to YouTube‚ the black woman responded to a question about the decolonisation of science.
“Science as a whole is a product of western modernity and the whole thing should be scratched off. Especially in Africa‚” she says.
“I have a question for all the science people. There is a place in KZN called Umhlab’uyalingana. They believe that through the magic‚ you call it black magic‚ they call it witchcraft‚ you are able to send lightening to strike someone. Can you explain that scientifically because it’s something that happens?”
She continues: “Western knowledge is totalising. It is saying that it was Newton and only Newton who knew and saw an apple falling and out of nowhere decided gravity existed and created an equation and that is it.
“Whether people knew Newton or not‚ or whatever happens in West Africa‚ Northern Africa‚ the thing is the only way to explain gravity is through Newton who sat under a tree and saw an apple fall.
“So western modernity is the problem that decolonisation directly deals with. It’s to say that we are going to decolonise by having knowledge that is produced by us‚ that speaks to us and that is able to accommodate knowledge from our perspective.
“Decolonising the science would mean doing away with it entirely and starting all over again to deal with how we respond to the environment and how we understand it.”
Many on social media supported her notions of “African” science replacing Western curricula.
This whole instinctive defense against #ScienceMustFall ignores how science has been used to justify oppression in the past
— Stu / خالد (@thembi_lewis) October 14, 2016
To drive home this point of undesirable Western science, “fallists” have now resorted to violence and damage to property. Already infrastructure such as lecture halls, libraries and administration buildings have been destroyed costing the government well over R600 000 million, money they do not have to squander.
Police also fired stun grenades near campus buildings in Woodstock and Mowbray on Monday afternoon, as Africans attempted to take part in a planned march to the parliament building in Cape Town city center.
The violence has also spread to the Cape Peninsula University of Technology campus in Bellville, where a number of vehicles were also torched.
At Rhodes University, located in the Eastern Cape province town of Grahamstown, police fired rubber bullets and teargas after Africans protested violently against new anti-cheating measures to ensure fair examinations.
According to an email sent to students, the new rules will be “strictly enforced” and include students being instructed to report to examination venues on time, with photo IDs. Pockets would have to be emptied and students would be patted down before being allowed entry.
Furthermore, the rules stated, nothing other than a plastic sleeve could be brought into the venue and no one would be allowed to exit early as the venues would be “locked down.” Venues would also be under CCTV surveillance.
The steps have become necessary after it became clear that Africans were using cell phones, Bluetooth enabled devices, and even small laptops during exams.
The measures provoked a full day of riots, which included barricades being erected on campus roads, and police firing teargas and stun grenades.
In the wake of the violence, the universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and the University of the Western Cape have once again been forced to close down completely, after only being open a few days following an earlier shutdown.
The University of the Limpopo in the north of South Africa issued a statement last week saying that its “decision to suspend classes has helped the institution avert costly destruction of infrastructure.”
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