Former Wits vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib has come under fire for blurting out the N-word during a meeting with students at the University of London. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng
Former Wits vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib has come under fire for blurting out the N-word during a meeting with students at the University of London. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Adam Habib uses N-word in meeting with London students, defends himself by saying it’s commonly used in SA

By Botho Molosankwe Time of article published Mar 12, 2021

Share this article:

Johannesburg - Former Wits vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib has come under fire for blurting out the N-word during a meeting with students at the University of London.

Habib has been the director of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the institution since January.

In a video circulating on social media, he is seen in an online meeting with some of the students.

During the meeting, it’s revealed that someone had used the word to refer to a student and the issue is raised with Habib.

However, instead of Habib referring to the slur as the ’’N-word’, he says it in full.

Immediately after saying the word, a black man, who is part of the meeting, leans closer to the screen with a look of disbelief. A white woman, shock etched on her face, also leans closer to the screen and puts her hands over her mouth.

When one of the students tells Habib that she finds it unacceptable that he has used the word in a public meeting with students, an unrepentant Habib says: “You do, I don’t actually.

“I come from a part of the world where we use the word.”

The black man, however, takes Habib on.

“You are not a black man, you cannot use the word, regardless of your lived experience,” he says.

“You have not faced the trauma and the oppression of black bodies, what we go through 24/7 for the last 500 years.

“You do not embody our history, therefore, you cannot use the word.”

In an attempt to apologise, Habib says: “I am sorry I offended you. I come from a part of the world where when someone use it, context matters.”

ALSO READ: N-word debacle: Habib explains himself and questions ’agenda of people politicising the issue’ after he apologised

Some South Africans, however, distanced themselves from Habib’s assertions that the world is commonly used in the country.

Twitter user @neozaneozaMda said: “Even in South Africa the N-word is not used by the whole population of blacks. It’s a small groups of youth in hip hip community fan base that uses the N-word. He’s lying that man, and he never associated with blacks when he was here.”

The EFF called on the University of London to fire Habib.

“Instead of withdrawing his statement, he went on a maniacal rage, raising his voice to defend the indefensible.

“Worse (than) that, Habib goes on to lie and suggest that the derogatory word is used commonly in South Africa, a blatant and filthy lie,” said the EFF.

IOL

Share this article: