Here is what I find problematic—the aforementioned ignoramus ridiculing of various graduates who hold Bachelor of Arts degrees in South Africa. It is worrying that in 2016 such stereotypes about BA holders are still propagated and used to look down on individuals who pursue non-traditional courses like Engineering, Actuarial Sciences, and Accountancy among other highly acclaimed fields of study. I am writing this after what has been going on around social media sites and mainstream media about the bashing of Julius Malema’s graduation. The claim that by obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, means the course is easy is a problematic, incomplete, misleading and a detrimental logical fallacy that needs to be addressed with urgency. It is snobbish behaviour that proves misinformation about the meaning of university degrees and their meaning, the division amongst black people and perpetuates the culture of self-hate.
Who deserves to be blamed for Julius’ graduation uninformed bashing? So what if he failed woodwork and Mathematics? Who cares? How many have failed two subjects in Matric and managed to be conferred with B. A degrees? Very few. <I go off the tangent> Now, let’s talk about this childish snobbery of hating on B.A degree holders. It is mystifying that people still consider B.A degrees “simple”, “easy-way-out” and “nice-time” degrees. Instead of bashing people like Comrade Malema, we should be celebrating them a bit more. We should be celebrating them for choosing the path that is mostly unfamiliar within any community. We should be celebrating the fact that a B.A degree produces a critical and conscious thinker—a concerned and engaged citizen about issues affecting the world. A thinker who has been exposed various fields and taught how these fields influence the specific cause they are choosing to fight for.
Leaders should be positive influencers; and the ANC’s response to Comrade Malema’s graduation was a dismal and characteristic failure– to effectively influence young people to persevere like Comrade did while working to obtain his degree. I find it ironic that the same government that was reluctant to ensure that university students are not excluded by the increase of fees is ridiculing a man who stood against all those odds and calls him “mediocre”. If mediocrity is choosing to stand for what you believe in, then I choose to be mediocre like Comrade Malema. If mediocrity is choosing to miss a disciplinary hearing with a party that is concerned with power and not the people and chooses to write you exams like Malema did in November 2011 and later got booted out in April 2012; then I choose to be mediocre. If mediocrity means you will be able to have a corruption case filed against you and manage to have a clean slate after and lead a revolutionary movement that is concerned about the people, then I choose to be mediocre.
This culture of common trajectories is perpetuating self-hate amongst black folks. Perhaps our government instead of calling a 35-year-old man “mediocre” for completing his undergraduate studies at age, should question the cause and do research about the number of people who obtain their undergraduate qualifications post their youth. We need to get to a better place as South Africans, and people in general, where we celebrate people who achieve something for themselves. People who grow up in dire situations and achieve unimaginable things. This culture of hating is childish and needs to stop. We need to come to a place as people where we respect people’s chosen paths. If I choose to obtain a degree at 35, it is none of your business. If I choose to pursue a B.A Human Rights, Political Science and Educational Studies degree it doesn’t mean I am lazy. It simply means I know the cause I want to fight for and, therefore, I am not lazy. If I choose to pursue a BSc. in Chemical Engineering, it doesn’t you’re better than me. It means you’re merely passionate about that field. Nothing much, nothing less and let us leave it at that. Maybe you’ll get a job quicker than me, which is also fine. Maybe you’ll live in a fancy house and drive a posh car and that also if fine by me. We are individuals who chose different paths.