An unflinching exposé on gender-based violence in South African universities.

In his book, The Imperatives of Revoking Our Silence, Hosia Malekane unpacks patriarchy, sexual violence, and toxic masculinity, which he argues are normalised at higher learning institutions.

The cover of The Imperatives of Revoking Our Silence book. Photo: Mpho Hlakudi

One example is that of Ntokozo Xaba, a 21-year-old student from the Tshwane University of Technology, who was allegedly stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend on February 2, 2023 in her Ekhaya Junction student residence in Pretoria.

According to Times Live, Xaba ended their relationship two years ago when her boyfriend, a Blue Bulls rugby player, physically abused her. Xaba had laid a case of assault against him but nothing had come of it.

Similarly, the novel begins with the sexual assault of a first-year student by a senior during orientation week. This, we’re told, is “the usual,”, however, Mojapelo Mathibe (Moja), the main character, rejects the normalisation of rape and encourages the survivor to report it.

Malekane, a real estate businessman living in Johannesburg, told Wits Vuvuzela that: “The book is located at a university because students are at a transformative stage from adolescence to adulthood. A learning mindset that can be easily redirected if it happens to have been exposed to gender-based violence (GBV) or domestic violence growing up. .”

The 301-page paperback can be difficult to get into because of the thorough explanation of concepts, which, although insightful, interrupt the emotional side of the story. Despite this, Malekane methodically explores the harmful practices that protect and entrench toxic masculinity in institutions of higher learning. While based on fiction, the story is an accurate depiction of lived realities.

Malekane said while he acknowledges the criticism, he wrote the book primarily for high school learners, warning them of the impending scourge when they go to university. The book was also written to inform parents, guardians, and university administration about the prevalence of GBV on campuses and encourage them to be vigilant and open with students.

The book discusses how victims are stigmatised and blamed, which leads them to revoke their police statements, while attackers roam free. It encourages society to “revoke its silence” and stand together against this scourge of misogyny.

“Male students who are not perpetrators must counsel their abusive compatriots and revoke their silence,” Malekane said. Along with this, Malekane urges witnesses to speak up when it seems easier to keep quiet because their voices will amplify the many other silent screams.

In the book, Moja starts as a lone voice that sparks an entire movement and encourages women, the university management, and the broader society towards a just world. Moja’s crusade for gender equality and justice led her to run as an independent candidate and become the Wits University Student Representative Council (SRC) president.

The book examines the dynamics between gender and power. It paints a picture of Wits as an institution in desperate need of transformation.

“It is a sad and compelling subject; victims have scars that took long to heal. Graduates I spoke to ended up damaged and battled to sustain relationships. Some are still not fully recovered from the ordeals. I have subsequently gone on book launches and speaking out at UP, University of Limpopo, UNW, UJ, UNW and CUT. The book has converted me into a GBV activist,” Malekane said.

The book was published by Reach Publishers on October 25, 2021 and copies are available for R230.00 online and at a 20% discount at Wits Campus bookstore.

This book, which took three years to research, write, and publish, uncovers the horror lurking behind the veneer of higher learning institutions around the world and provides pathways for survivors and witnesses to confront such issues and their root causes.

Vuvu Rating: 7.8/10

FEATURED: The inside of the book with The words The Imperatives clear. Photo: Mpho Hlakudi