Slice of Life: The harsh light shines on purpose

The Rhodes Must Fall campaign ended on Thursday, when the statue of Cecil John Rhodes was removed before a violent, baying crowd of students at UCT 9 April 2015. (David Harrison/M&G)

The Rhodes Must Fall campaign ended on Thursday, when the statue of Cecil John Rhodes was removed before a violent, baying crowd of students at UCT 9 April 2015. (David Harrison/M&G)

I used to work at the University of Cape Town as one of the support staff. Transformation was always important to me, so I joined our staff transformation committee. It was then that I really got to see all this race privilege.

It was at that time that the #RhodesMustFall movement happened.
As a staff member — especially if you were a staff member of colour — you knew that that movement was inevitable. I remember once sitting in on one of the transformation committee meetings and the vice-chancellor, Max Price, would say things like: “We don’t need a transformation policy; everything is fine.”

Shortly after Chumani Maxwele threw the poo on the Rhodes statue, the university called a town hall meeting. I listened to black students speaking about their experiences at UCT and, just listening to them speak and realising how much I could relate to their experiences — even as a staff member — I knew at that moment that I wouldn’t be able to make a change at that university.

That was the push for me. It made me realise I needed to move from there and use my skills as an attorney to do my bit.

Yes, #RhodesMustFall was about a statue, but for me it made me see my calling, which is to really try and make society a better place — and that I wouldn’t be able to do it at that university. I tried, but it was impossible. That movement and that moment really directed me to where I am at the moment. — Keval Harie, 34, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian

Carl Collison

Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa. Read more from Carl Collison

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