Rhodes students, lecturers, and dining hall staff converged in front of the administration building today to demonstrate against a lack of transformation within the university. The demonstration, organised by the Black Student Movement (BSM), began at 10am, and ran through to 12:45.
The demonstration started slow, with a handful of students assembling at the Drostdy lawns. Some were singing and dancing as they waved a black banner around. Others helped in writing posters, and painting another banner, which was to be hung on the adminstration building. As time went on, more people joined the demonstration, and by 11am, dining hall staff and lecturers had joined the students.
THE MARCH BEGINS
With all three groups now together, the march began in earnest. Starting at the administration building, the demonstrators sang and danced their way up to the Day Kaif area. Many of the students already at the Kaif were surprised by the demonstrations. Phones and cameras in hand, students watched as demonstrators took over the space, still singing and dancing, waving their banners in the air. From the General Lecture Theatre, to the courtyard outside the English Department, everyone stopped to witness the march.
THE DROSTDY LAWNS
The demonstration then moved back to the Rhodes administration building. Standing on the Drostdy lawns, just in front of the Arch, the demonstrators continued to sing and dance. Many more students and staff joined, and the sizeable demonstration grew into a large crowd. It was a chorus of singing and dancing.
BACK TO THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
The demonstration then moved back to its original location, in front of the administration building. The singing and dancing continued, as the demonstrators prepared to meet with Rhodes University management, face to face. Vice Chancellor Dr. Mabizela, and Dean of Students Dr. Vassiliou. Dr. Mabizela spoke to the participants in the demonstration both in isiXhosa and English. He emphasised the cooperation between the student body and his office, as he said:
“I invite all of you, let us work together and make this institution the best that it can be.”
Some of the demonstrators also got an opportunity to speak. From Dr. Msindo from the History Department, to a member of the dining hall staff who has been a Rhodes university employee since 1985. As it was time for dining hall staff to return to their respective dining halls, the march moved up the hill, and dissolved at Jan Smuts dining hall. With the BSM planning on taking up the issue of transformation with the Department of Higher Education, Rhodes administration, staff, and the student body now waits to see the outcome of this decision.
Photos taken by Dave Richardson and Mako Muzenda