[imagesource: Hoërskool Brackenfell High / Facebook]
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many matric dances (or balls) that would usually be taking place at around this time, have had to be put on hold.
Even with the 50% venue capacity rule, not all students would be able to attend at many institutions.
To make up for this, a group of Afrikaans-speaking parents at Brackenfell High School decided to put their own gathering together. There are 250 matric pupils at the school, so the 100 tickets for the event were sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
The dance was not affiliated with the school, so the parents say that they weren’t able to advertise through the usual channels. This meant that the event was largely advertised through WhatsApp groups.
The resulting dance was filmed by a production company, and the video was uploaded onto YouTube (it has since been removed).
The title of the video gave the impression that it was the official school dance.
According to TimesLIVE, the video showed that the dance was attended exclusively by white students.
The parents claimed that their method of advertising is what amounted to the all-white gathering, with one who chose to remain anonymous stating:
“We relied on our children and their friends to spread the word because that’s all we were allowed to do; we weren’t even allowed to put on social media that “all the matric parents of Brackenfell can contact us’ for this, we weren’t even allowed to use the school’s name.”
For other parents at the school, the event was indicative of a systemic problem that they say filters into both parent and student relations.
A coloured Brackenfell High parent, who asked not to be named, said black pupils felt marginalised, while racism and hostility by some white pupils had gone unchecked and unpunished. “The problem at this school is not in the matric farewell. It’s racism,” said the parent.
“Coloured and black children speak about how they are being called h***** and k*****. My child is being told she must get over apartheid and that she is not a product of apartheid.”
The parent also mentioned the deluge of stories posted anonymously on an Instagram account, that highlighted just how widespread the problem really is, both in Cape Town and across the country.
“This event wasn’t sanctioned by the school, but there is a deeper racial issue. The deputy head boy called a child a racial slur and nothing happened,” said the parent.
“Because Brackenfell has one of the largest school populations in the region, they take the cream of the crop from the surrounding black and coloured communities. My child was saying, ‘it feels like the only thing we are good for is sport.’”
The parent also said that the children don’t mix with each other, which they claim is a recent phenomenon.
“When the children say black lives matter, the Afrikaans children say boere lives matter. And I tell her, boere lives do matter, but so do black lives. The underlying issue is racial inequality. The Afrikaans and black children are getting a very bad picture of each other.”
A former pupil who graduated last year also spoke out about the problem, saying “there’s always been a sense of discrimination and favouritism even in the class”.
Western Cape education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond says the department has received no complaints of racism at the school this year.
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