A Postcolonial Approach on Legacies of Apartheid in a Post-Apartheid South Africa University Landscape

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In this thesis, legacies of apartheid in three universities in the Gauteng province, in post-apartheid South Africa, are investigated. By using multiple dimensions, legacies of apartheid in different spaces and institutions come to the fore. They show that especially language, and to a lesser extent backgrounds, play an important role in the social relations between students. Besides, some institutional cultures and spaces, such as working environments, university residences and nightlife facilities are still characterized by a racial segregation. Although some quotas are set up to increase diversity, they are seen as a reversed form of discrimination. The working environments on universities have been changed in a positive way since some staff-members have changed their mind-sets. Also here, language plays an important role. Through the lenses of the different postcolonial approaches, legacies can be explained. Wat can be seen through the lens of postcolonial theories is that the mind-sets that some people have, show they did not have a decolonization of the mind. They are still not liberated from old apartheid beliefs, which are influencing their behaviour. Through the lens of postcolonial approaches on language there are different contradistinctions between explanations of the language problems. Fanon’s assumption of the power of language does correspond with the findings in this research, only the languages he assumed giving power hereby do not correspond completely. Following his assumptions, Afrikaans should give people power, but it is the English language that mostly gives power. The use of different languages is not per sé a form of discrimination, but students experience the use sometimes as very unfair. The real unfairness of using certain languages is difficult to decide, because all languages have their own advantages and disadvantages. The discontent about the language policies is also caused by the fact that not many students are aware of the role of different languages, for example how Achebe sees English as a world language, whereby different accents occur. This results in the resistance against institutional changes into using the English language. This can be seen as a form of carrying on culture, just as wa Thiong’o assumes. But it can be argued that not many staff members are aware of this relation between language and culture. Providing and using all languages would be most justified, this is also claimed by wa Thiong’o, but unfortunately providing all languages is not possible. Through the lens of Fanon’s assumptions on interracial relationships, legacies that can be seen are the created ‘’inferiority of black people and white superiority feelings’’. Also other postcolonial approaches explain the founded research results. Institutions transform faster that people’s mind-sets. Some institutional structures and spaces reflect legacies of apartheid, which are further strengthened by some students’ and staff members’ mind-sets on other people. Universities do their best in changing institutional structures to liberate students from those legacies, but changing institutional structures does not automatically changes people’s mind-sets. Transforming institutional structures is a difficult task for universities, different students and different staff members have different interests when institutions change.
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