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South African Scholarships



To the Editors of The Crimson:

The recent announcement that Harvard, along with several colleges, universities and foundations, like Ford and Carnegie, is taking steps to establish a South African scholarship program has long been anticipated by antiapartheid activists. Although the details of the program have yet to be worked out, it should already be clear to informed observers that Harvard is not solely motivated by altruism or love of academic objectivity in this matter. Harvard's investments in banks and businesses which are involved in South Africa amount to almost $300 million.

For over two years students and faculty members have made this direct economic support for the system of apartheid in South Africa the subject of continuing protest, linking it at times to Harvard's own system of racism by its repression of the Afro-American studies department. In the past, President Bok and the Corporation have reluctantly made face-saving gestures, such as providing Nieman Foundation fellowships to the South African jornalists Percy Qoboza and Donald Woods, whenever the embarrassment of their policies have been too great. Now, in another move to undercut the opposition to Harvard's lucrative hare in apartheid, including a financial boycott by many alumni/ae of the College, we are presented with an ambitious plan to educated black South Africans in the very institutions which profit from their oppression.

However, the proposed South African scholarship program is more than just another gesture. No one should take seriously the ideas that black South Africans will be brought to Harvard for a disinterested education. One needs only to look into the other areas of endeavor by Harvard to find the real purpose of the scholarship program. In the September 14 edition of the Harvard Gazette, President Bok refers to Harvard's educational mission in the Third World mentioning the schools of management organized by the Business School in countries such as Marcos's Philippines and the Shah's Iran. (Another is being planned in that wonder of capitalist (under) development, Kenya.)

Like its counterparts abroad, the South African scholarship program aims at the creation of a Western-educated and oriented African and Colored elite which can act as a "third force" between die-hard Afrikaaners and the forces of national liberation led by the African National Congress and the Pan-Africanist Congress. The U.S. government and business interests have wanted for a long time to reform apartheid just enough to stabilize it and maintain the enormous superprofits extracted from the black South African workforce. Harvard's plan plays right into this neo-colonialist strategy, by supplying partners with black forces to complete the deal. Bishop Muzorewa of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia has his lookalikes in South Africa, or will if Harvard has its way.

Although answers to questions concerning how individuals are selected for this program, what will be their course of study, what will they do (if) when they return to South Africa may appear to ameliorate some antagonism toward this program. What President Bok and Bishop Muzorewa don't understand, though, is that history is not on their side. The liberation struggle across Southern Africa 'gains momentum with every new day and each new atrocity committed against freedom by the white-dominated regimes. These regimes and their Western backers can buy time but they cannot buy the hearts and minds of the African people. Victory is certain! --Robert J. Harper II   HGSE

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