White Lies – Justifying the Racism in Our Schools

An article in last weekend’s Sunday Times entitled “White flight ‘over fear and mother tongue’” tells us that white people are pulling their kids out of schools where there are too many black people.

In former Model C schools there are now only a handful of white pupils, some have none. The article says that most white pupils have moved to private schools or Afrikaans-medium schools. This is not new – it has been happening for over two decades now; schools can be a safe place for birds of a feather to flock together. However, the only white mother left at Saxonwold Primary in Johannesburg says that she doesn’t think the exodus of white families is all about the massive enrolment of black families over the past years. She says that the white families had just “lost faith in government education”. But at our daughter’s school – a private school – we have noticed the same trend.  Unlike most white couples, we have a black daughter and one of the reasons we chose her school was precisely because it is so multi-racial. Since we started there in 2016, most of the white families have left and now there is just the one in Lolly’s class. It is generally accepted that this migration is at very least partially due to the darkening hue of the place, but ironically the reasons given are something along the lines of: “We have lost faith in the school”. So, it seems that the same reason for white flight is being given at government and private schools. Now just for clarity, our daughter’s school is world-class. Sure, you can move your kid from one privileged school to another in search of ever improving facilities, but is this all school is about; a case of my astro is bigger than yours? Educating the 21st Century child is so much more than this.  Learning and socialising in a multi-cultural environment that prepares them for the world they will one day live in, is as vital to their future success as lessons, sport and extra murals. We stunt our children’s growth and development if we don’t expose them to as many cultures, colours, religions and worldviews as possible. And not just at school, but at home as well.

Broken Hearted for South Africa

It is difficult to imagine the psychological and physical suffering that precedes death by Stress-induced Cardiomyopathy also known as Broken Heart Syndrome.

How much pressure; what levels of anxiety can the human heart endure before it deteriorates to breaking point? What dis-ease needs to afflict a person before the thing literally falls apart. According to the Mayo Clinic website: “The exact cause of broken heart syndrome is unclear. It’s thought that a surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, might temporarily damage the hearts of some people. Broken heart syndrome is often preceded by an intense physical or emotional event.” I see her young face everywhere I look; a picture of Hlaudi Motsoeneng has Suna Venter’s face reflected in his eyes; those violent, conniving eyes boring into her, trying to intimidate her and her colleagues into submission. I imagine him whispering to his henchmen: “Break her heart; whatever you do, make sure she doesn’t return.” And in the next instant, his eyes reflect our President; fattened and giggling. This woman’s heart break is no accident. She was harassed, threatened and attacked until it broke.  Will we ask ourselves in 5 years’ time, what happened to the SABC 8 who are now the SABC 4? How many more hearts will break? What will be the ultimate death toll in the war between evil madmen slathering and foaming at the mouth in pursuit of money and those trying to defend our democracy? If you see this as anything but an out-and-out war, you are deluded.  Of course, the aim was silence but it never worked because these people fought to the death – and won. And the fight was always for us – the people of South Africa. Suna Venter and a small group of colleagues from the public broadcaster stood firm and took on the might of a towering empire of corruption and deceit – and won. The pen won the day. But not so fast fellow South Africans. Not so fast can we move on from the death of this young woman. We must not allow for the standard period of outrage and mourning and then forget the price that was paid. One of the last remaining vestiges of our democracy untouched by the fattened fingers of the Guptas and our president, was saved by their bravery. Suna Venters heart broke because she was defending the very ground we stand on; our free press. For if Motsoeneng and his compardres had succeeded in their mission to curtail what news we could and could not see, the attack on our democracy would have been virtually complete, bar the judiciary. That was what was at stake and people were willing to give their lives to defend us from this. I believe that Suna Venter – and indeed the rest of the SABC 8 – must be remembered and honoured as heroes. How do we do this? For a start Suna Venter should by remembered and immortalised by every media outlet in this country. Their very relevance is thanks in large part to her and her colleagues. Every paper, magazine, radio and TV station should hang a photo of her; put up a plaque if you like. Get creative – but do something.  Let everyone who sees it pay their respects and remind themselves that her life was given in the fight for the freedom of our press. Let it be a constant reminder that we will not tolerate anyone who tries to trample on our democracy. We will take them on and we will win – even if it breaks our hearts. Anyone who is involved in the media should take every opportunity to remember the sacrifice made by Suna Venter et al. In my way, I have used this column to keep the memory of Anene Booysens and Josiah Sithole alive by dedicating every piece I write to them. This is so we keep the fight against xenophobia and gender-based violence top-of-mind – not just when an attack occurs. The same applies to Suna Venter. Her name will be added to the dedication of every column I write. As for us as citizens of South Africa, what can we do to ensure that her memory is kept alive and that we join the fight against the powerful and the corrupt who are trying to rob us of our democracy? For a start – as I have written about before – we must resist the temptation to join the system of corruption and abuse; our businesses, our homes, our cars, our places of worship, our NGO’s – wherever we operate – must be places where corruption and abuse of power is not tolerated no matter how much we may stand to gain or lose personally from the transaction. Our complicity fuels the engine. Secondly, we must be prepared -as the SABC 8 has been – to speak out when we see abuse of power and/or corruption or even manipulation taking place. This is very tough – especially when we love those committing the deeds – but we cannot turn a blind eye. On a personal note, the passing of Suna Venter broke my heart and enraged me. I am enraged by what the President, the Gupta’s, the Molefe’s, the Van Rooyens, the Motsoenengs and many others are doing to our country and her people and I want it to stop. Too many people have been robbed from and too many people have died. When will it end? When we – like Suna Venter – put our hearts on the line. Justin Foxton is founder of The Peace Agency. His writing is dedicated to the memory of Anene Booysens, Emmanuel Josias Sithole and Suna Venter.