Kombuis on current student protests

Isabelle Coetzee

“There is a growing danger of the current student movement bowing to the political pressure of black nationalism,” according to Koos Kombuis.

Kombuis said he would personally oppose this, just as he opposed white nationalism. “All forms of ethnic nationalism suck.”

Kombuis made these comments after performing with Andries Bezuidenhout, writer-singer-academic, at this year’s Woordfees in Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch has been central in a number of language and student fee protests which has rocked the country the last six months.

He compared the current student protests to those of his youth.

“Some of the slogans seen on placards during the Voëlvry marches read ‘Talk to us’ and ‘Listen to us’. The theme of ‘Luister’ seems to have come a long way!”

According to Kombuis, efforts of the Stellenbosch University (SU) rector, prof Wim de Villiers, have been ineffective.

“They are giving in to some demands, but the process is mired because the guardians of the old order are fanatically intent on protecting one dialect of Afrikaans to the exclusion of all other languages.”

Kombuis sympathises with the struggles that black South Africans are currently going through, and he empathises with how difficult it is for people of colour to escape the inequalities of the past.

“Many whites are blissfully unaware of the plights and needs of black South Africans. They are even more unaware of how closed their cultural and economic cliques appear to be from the outside,” he said.

His new book, Ver in die Wêreld, Sushi which was published in July, comprises of a collection of his columns. In it he discusses a new “language feud” for the country.

“The ideal of multiculturalism should become more than a vague idea, we need to tackle these issues from the bottom up – we need to get our hands dirty.”

For Kombuis it is not enough to allow Nathan Trantraal space as a columnist or to invite Emo Adams to the Klein Karoon Nationale Kunstefees.

“True inclusivity goes beyond tokenism.”

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