About Author

Ntshala Mahase is a Law student at the University Of the Free State. He is the author of the novel Life Out of the Ordinary. He is a social activist. He writes black consciousness opinions for Outlook magazine.

How Much Does a Black Life Really Cost

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One American rapper once asked how much does a dollar really cost? With the recent incidents that took place at The University of the Free State I dare to ask; how much does a Black life really cost? Without putting price tags on human beings, which is what the University has subtly and explicitly done, and has always did. Clearly lives of others are better than those of others and therefore deserve to be protected by any means necessary even if that means assaulting peaceful protesters.

When a group of protesters decided to march to Shimla Park on Monday night to capture the attention of the University management, specifically Prof Jonathan Jansen who chose to go watch a rugby match over continued struggle of black workers to be insourced by the University and to earn a living wage. JJ, as he is affectionately known, decided to spectate while a group of white spectators, both students and their parents, assaulted black protesters including black students and the workers. I dare to ask again: how much does a black life really cost?

Preceding Monday night’s incidents, the group of protesters who were assaulted took it upon themselves to get the attention of the University by disrupting the University administration and academic project, as it would not be a surprise they were met by a heavy police presence, shot, harassed and arrested. Not even a single one of the vigilante white spectators who assaulted the protesters has been arrested. I’ll ask once more, how much does a black life really cost?
The University of the Free State has for years, to protect its image, which is obviously far more important than black students’ lives, swept under the carpet the continued experiences of racism by black students. On a daily basis a black student is made to feel excluded by institutional culture that has remained pro Afrikaner and anti-black. The University environment has and still is hostile and unconducive for black students. How do you expect one to feel at home in an environment in which institutional symbolism reflects white supremacy and black oppression? When a statue of one of the biggest perpetrators of the apartheid regime stands tall in front of the main building? When residences and most lecture halls are named after people who oppressed them? When placements at residences do not reflect the demographics of our campus but majority of black students are denied access to campus accommodation? When those who can drive cars and can easily afford to live off campus are reserved campus accommodation and those who cannot afford to live off campus, those who have to walk for hours to make it in to the campus are chased off campus. Where ones poor socio economic status makes him a victim of a brutal system that seeks to preserve white culture and fuel white supremacy. I’ll ask once more: how much does a life of a black UFS student really cost?

How much does a black life really cost when a black student is forced to study in his second language and denied an opportunity to study in his home language while a white student is afforded an opportunity to study in his home language (Afrikaans). When black students are constantly denied an opportunity to receive education by being financially excluded and deregistered year in and year out? How many black future academics, doctors and lawyers are you willing to kill? How much does a black life really cost when strategic courses like medicine, accounting and law remain untransformed and white. When the intake of medical students does not reflect the demographics of our country, in which white people. When black academics are nowhere to be seen as the academia and staff of the University remains untransformed and white with more than 90% of lecturers being white. When a black law student in his four year degree gets to be taught by only three black lecturers. Afford me the opportunity to ask again how much does a black life really cost.

How much does a black life really cost when a black student is denied an opportunity to question the current ossified and untransformed status quo at the University. When students are constantly silenced to speak out against an untransformed and Afrikaner cultured University? When he gets victimized for being vigilant and aware of the prevailing situation on his campus, for standing up for what is just and fair. I’ll once more ask how much does a black life really cost?

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