The Burning

At the University of Cape Town (UCT) this week, a group of students protested the housing crisis that has affected the university for as long as black people have been present as students on the campus.  Every year black students students starve and drop out because they cannot afford campus accommodation. The #RhodesMustFall (RMF) movement, from which South Africans have come to expect uncompromising and hard-to- watch displays of anti-colonial symbolism, decided to erect a shack to disrupt the complacency that says shacks must stay in their place.

The appearance of a small corrugated iron shack where it doesn’t belong.  It was jarring; incongruous amidst the pristine and manicured elitism of UCT.  It looked malignant; a growth where tidiness normally masks exclusion.

It was a powerful statement but the protesting students were not content with just ruffling feathers.  They wanted to make a pyre: to burning paintings the way one might an effigy.  It was a send-off to all the dead white men whom history has covered in glory instead of blood.

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