Luister documentary causing a storm

LISTEN: The opening title screen of the documentary explores racism and the language barrier experienced by non-Afrikaans students at Stellenbosch University. Photo: YouTube

LISTEN: The opening title screen of the documentary explores racism and the language barrier experienced by non-Afrikaans students at Stellenbosch University. Photo: YouTube

A documentary exploring racism and the language barrier experienced by non-Afrikaans students at Stellenbosch University is causing widespread debate from within the university itself to politicians in parliament.

Last week, student organisation Open Stellenbosch, together with Contraband Cape Town, released the short documentary Luister. The documentary explores racism and the language barrier experienced by non-Afrikaans students at Stellenbosch University.

Stellenbosch University’s relations manager Wim de Villiers said he is more than willing to meet with Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education. This comes after political parties voiced their concerns over a documentary which features student accounts of alleged racism.

The ANC in Parliament expressed outrage on Tuesday over the racist reality at the University that the documentary portrays. Parliament now wants to have an urgent meeting with the institution’s management.

Luister is a 30 minute YouTube documentary showing the lived experiences of more than 30 students and a lecturer at the university who have felt forms of racial prejudice. It also deals with issues of non-transformation at the institution which is still 65% white.

De Villiers said Luister gives the false impression that management isn’t serious about transformation. He added that the University has always taken the issue seriously but highlighted that there also needs to be mutual respect from the students.

Open Stellenbosch responded to the Universities comments saying that they were, “disappointed that even now, confronted with the raw testimony of students talking about our personal lived experiences of racism and violence, the university continues to insist that our voices are a ‘misrepresentation’”.

Since its release on YouTube a few days ago, it has already had over 125,000 views. According to Open Stellenbosch, the group wants to show the public the extent of racism and exclusivity at Stellenbosch University.

“For the past three months we’ve been acting in action against the university to appeal to these issues. We saw the need to draw broader attention that’s why we decided to put ‘Luister’ together.”

“Luister is a film 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. Luister is the Afrikaans word for Listen.” Contraband Cape Town added this description on YouTube.