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Blackness and racial divisions

- Buhle Zuma

The clamour for economic freedom and transformation of higher education reflect a society searching for sustainable social equilibrium.

A former head in government has empathised with the student movements in their call for transformation at South African Universities.

Joel Netshitenzhe, who was the head of communication in former President Nelson Mandela’s office said that the student protests and resurgence of racism are characteristic of a society that has failed to bring about social and economic transformation.

“The impatience is palpable…and is growing louder by the day.”

There is a sixth sense in society that something dramatic needs to happen in the second transition of democracy in South Africa, said Netshitenzhe during a  race dialogue titled Blackness and its entanglement with essentialisms, intersections and faultlines in post-apartheid South Africa.

The dialogue was hosted by the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies in conjunction with the Foundation for Human Rights, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

His address was titled The black man’s burden...South Africa’s collective burden


Netshitenzhe was joined on the panel by Nomasonto Mazibuko, activist for the rights of people with albinism. Mazibuko shared her experiences of not being black enough and the enduring discrimination against albinos.

Josephilda Nhlapo-Hlope from the Office of the Presidency delivered a unifying message reminding delegates that race is social construct and it can be deconstructed.  Her address was titled Celebrating Diversity: Government’s Plans.

The next dialogue on race will focus on whiteness and the new Afrikaaner. Enquiries: