On Saturday, 1st July 2017, Wits University Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib gave a stimulating talk to an audience comprised of Waterford staff, parents, alumni and students.
Professor Habib is known for his political activism, social commentary and excellent speeches. On Saturday, he spoke vehemently about the problems that South Africa is currently facing, while relating those matters to global issues as well as talking about today’s youth and their future. When speaking about South Africa, he mentioned that there is quite a lot that people seem to take for granted. For example, the fact that there is a democratic system in place and the fact that over 4 million black South Africans have access to tertiary education whereas prior to 1994 most black people had no access to tertiary education. Despite this, he said that South Africa is in a lot of trouble, not simply because of the polarized nature of South African politics and the corruption that is rife within its government but largely because of the economic inequality.
In spite of this gloomy situation, he said that there is still hope. He referred to the “demographic dividend”, pointing out that the youth are the leading factor in terms of economic growth amongst developing countries. Six of the fastest growing countries in the world are in Africa because of this “demographic dividend”, he said. Another solution he posed was that the rich should give up a little of what they have so that everybody can have enough. He ended his speech by talking about South Africa’s students-led #FeesMustFall movement, asserting that he was in support of the students but at the same time very critical of the movement where he does not support the violence that certain factions have caused. He condoned the arson that university infrastructure has come under. After his talk, he answered questions about political realignment in South Africa, the youth’s uncertain future and clarity on the inequality in South Africa. All in all, the professor spoke with unwavering conviction that kept everybody on toes throughout his speech.