[DEBATE] : M&G Letters on Ashwin Desai
rajeevcpatel at gmail.com
Fri Feb 24 07:43:00 GMT 2006
Desai is our Sartre
I read with horror the bile spewed by Malegapuru Makgoba against Ashwin
Desai in your last edition ("Truth is often less sexy than sensation").
Makgoba uses innuendo to name the alleged unaccountable "mafia" that abused
public resources and kept no records. He names Saths Cooper, under whose
management records weren't kept. Then, under the cloak of condemning the
racialisation of the Desai matter by the media, he promotes his own
dangerous, narrow and reactionary Africanist chauvinism.
He points to a pro-Desai campaign by unnamed Indian journalists, with the
implied corollary that African journalists would be on his side if only they
had the same access to information, which they've been denied.
In the same vein, he mentions the names Cooper, Desai, Govender and Habib
next to a throwaway comment about an Indian cabal. Very little is left to
the imagination. This is intellectual gangsterism of the highest order.
It's a sad day that UKZN, which helped birth one of the most potent
liberation philosophies -- Black Consciousness -- is now turning into a den
of tribalism promoted from the top.
It's sad indeed that an intellectual and academic of Desai's calibre, who
has inspired a whole generation of young thinkers to side with the poor and
speak truth to power, has to be subjected to such slander and victimisation.
Desai is our Sartre. Instead of persecuting him, Makgoba should say, like
Charles de Gaulle when it was suggested that Sartre be jailed for his
pro-Algerian independence activities against French colonialism: "You do not
arrest Voltaire." The French are richer for it. -- Andile Mngxitama,
In your last edition, I believe Makgoba presented the facts of the Desai
case, as opposed to the selectively processed garbage we have been fed
through obscure internet petitions and partisan media coverage.
I was alarmed by his account of ethnic cabals who perpetuate corruption and
abuse the integrity of the university's leadership.
Cooper's leadership and legacy will be recorded in the annals of university
history as disgraceful. For him to have used his position and university
resources to cut deals for sidekicks is nauseating.
Cleaning up the mess will require nerves of steel. I believe Makgoba is our
man! -- Nombeko Mbava, Cape Town
After his verbatim reply the week before, the Mail & Guardian gave further
extensive space to Makgoba to put his case last week.
During the same period, UKZN was crippled by a massive strike that brought
out thousands of disaffected workers over two weeks in defiance of
management. Student registration was disrupted and the lecture programme
halted. The M&G's silence on these events was deafening.
Though management has now climbed down from its initial intransigence, many
staff believe this was merely a first battle in a long war. Perhaps that
will provide the M&G with the opportunity to redeem its reputation! -- Tony
Please can the M&G assure readers that no more than 5% of the paper will be
devoted to Makgoba's self-promotion campaigns this year? -- Michael Brett,
Makgoba suggests that reporting on the Desai case has been racialised. But
the only writer, white or black, in print or on radio, to conjure the
spectre of "anti-African Indians" or "anti-Indian Africans" is Makgoba
Perhaps he wants to tell us something, but finds it more expedient to lay
his prejudices at the door of journalists. -- Raj Patel, Centre for Civil
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