Two decades after South Africa ended apartheid and voted Nelson Mandela into office, the country still struggles with race. While the country’s leadership looks like its majority-Black population, stark economic disparities exist.
According to the country’s 2011 census, Black South Africans made 60,613 rand ($8,700 at the time), just one-sixth the income of whites, and approximately a quarter of Asians. Mixed-raced (or “coloured”) South Africans had twice the income of Blacks.
In addition to the differing socioeconomic levels, South Africans still struggle with the scars of its past, and a recent video of university students only highlight the issues that still remain.
In Luister, students of color at Stellenbosch University shine on a light on how marginalized and discriminated against they feel at the institution which teaches in Afrikaans, the language of the ousted apartheid government (it’s also one of South Africa’s official languages).
According to the film’s YouTube page, Luister, which is the Afrikaans word for “listen,” is about “Afrikaans as a language and a culture. It is a film about the continuing racism that exists within a divided society. It is a film about a group of students whose stories have been ignored.”
Throughout the video students share painfully honest experiences of what’s happened to them at Stellenbosch University.
In one clip, a student said he feels like “it’s wrong to be Black” at the university, while another spoke about being kicked out of a party because of his race. In another instance, a young man spoke about being attacked by a group of white students and not being supported by the university or police.
One student, who’ been threatened for speaking out, said the university has a “culture of trying to silence Black voices” by continuing to celebrate Afrikaans. She concludes, “They’re willing to safeguard their language policy, but they’re not willing to safeguard Black students.”
Since Luister was published to YouTube at the end of August, it’s racked up over a quarter-of-a-million views, and sparked protests at the university.
Recently, hundreds of students demonstrated at Stellenbosch, claiming the formerly “whites only” university continues to uphold the spirit of apartheid.
— Sowetan LIVE (@SowetanLIVE) September 2, 2015
— Fumisa Plaatjie (@MizzFumi_K) September 1, 2015
— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) September 1, 2015
“It isn’t simply about language as a teaching tool,” Mo Shabangu, a student activist, told Al Jazeera. “It’s about language and how it connects to the institutional culture that continues in this apartheid spirit unabated.”