“I wonder if they knew..I wonder if oMama bethu knew that the schools they took us to were violent. Phofu, if they knew [just how violent our schools were] I wonder if they would have taken us out. I doubt. The thing is, uyabona Sihle, my mother is a strong woman,” Phuti said seated at the end of the table. She raised her glass of beyerskloof red wine, gulped and placed it back on the table and continued speaking.
“She is soo strong.” She shook her head.
“What do you mean?” I inquired, leaning closer to hear, curious to gain insight.
“All I ever wanted was to be more like her. My mom is a fixer. Her friend’s friends call her to fix things. She sorts things out. Like no-one messes with my mother. Her only fault is.. (she shrugged her shoulders) her only fault is, that she was and perhaps still is firmly convinced that the only way I could become anything that matters in this life is if I was taught in white schools by white teachers. She saw white schools as a crucial pathway for “cultivating the necessary aspirant dispositions that will allow my entry into formal middle class, employment , and lifestyles.”
So morning after morning, we marched out of our neighborhoods, shunning black and colored schools adjacent to our homes. Refusing to be trapped by geography. Morning after morning, we were transported past railways and bridges, tearing down soft zoning’s and apartheid spatial engineering to find and seek and find. Fueled by the promise of a ‘better life for all.’
Each morning we escaped our anti-aspirant communities and recalcitrant neighbors. Disjuncture. Trudging through, traversing space. Displacement. Continuously in motion to find remote classrooms in the city, indoctrinated by the belief that the material offered in non-whites schools was anti-aspirant. And daily, the strong chords that tied us to our neighborhoods, our cousins, our blackness, our villages and our heritage thinned. Continue reading “Model C Schools: Corridors of violence & Assemblies of Assimilation.”