The Xanandu-Melodi choir sang asimbonanga, Nkosi Sikelela and Uhuru – prominent struggle songs in South Africa. With these, they paved the way for the speakers as the Black Teachers Association (BTA) was officially launched on Friday evening.
With a host of speakers in the event, former media studies lecturer in NMMU Professor Simphiwe Sesanti could not have been left out. The main aim for this society is to make black lecturers gain self-conscience and assist students who are from deep rural areas. Bulelani Blaauw, who’s the secretary general of BTA said, “[w]e saw the need for BTA because there was no student activism for faculty of education”.
The event, held at the NMMU building 11, touched on different things such as black students encountering different challenges and no one speaking on their behalf. BTA plans to be the voice for these students. Talking with secretary general Mr Blaauw, he stated that there have been issues of racism in the faculty, and that these students struggled to get their grievances attended to. BTA was created last year so it could tackle issues that black lecturers have witnessed black students face. The application was only approved this year by the university.
One of the speakers Dr Muki Moeng (executive dean of the faculty of education) standing in front of the audience, said that BTA will be the umbrella for student teachers and the aim is to go nationally. Black students do come with lot of challenges in higher learning institutions. Dr Moeng further said that people shouldn’t be ashamed of being black or being black teachers. He also encouraged that they should not be ashamed that they majored in IsiXhosa because it is not only Science and Mathematics assure success.
As per usual, the audience arose in song as Prof Sesanti made his way to the podium. His talk was essentially based on the black condition in the institutions of higher learning. He started by praising his ancestors, citing his clan names and after that he greeted the audience going straight to the main issue: the conditions that black students in higher learning face. He said that, “university makes us to shy away from our own cultures”.
He quoted books written by Chinu Achebe, which state that, “we should not let people make a joke about our identity, because when we do, we let them take our identity and we become a joke”. Talking with Mr Blaauw again he stated that, Black Teachers Association does not exclude any race, everyone is welcomed to the society as long as they have the same vision as one of BTA.