N-word debacle: Habib explains himself and questions ’agenda of people politicising the issue’ after he apologised
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Johannesburg - Professor Adam Habib has questioned the “agenda” of people he has accused of politicising the issue where he used the N-word in a meeting with students of the University of London.
Habib, the former Wits Vice-Chancellor, has been the director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the institution since January and was in an online meeting with students when he blurted out the offensive slur.
This was after it was revealed during the meeting that someone had used the word to refer to a student and the issue was then raised with Habib.
However, instead of Habib referring to the slur as the ’’N-word’, he said it in full, leaving the students in disbelief.
Habib later apologised after he was called out by two students.
“I am sorry I offended you. I come from a part of the world where when someone uses it, context matters,” he said.
However, Habib said since accused, “some individuals” of deliberately misrepresenting that conversation.
In a series of Tweets, Habib said he had apologised by stating that his intention when he used the word was not to offend anyone.
He said he had also made it clear that if the word was used against another person, it would be a disciplinary offence as it would violate their policies.
“The question is why is it that after this apology, some are still politicising the issue?
“What is their agenda? There were many issues of importance discussed at the meeting: the strategic plan, the experiences of students and what measures are being instituted to address it, what can SOAS do and what it cannot afford. None of this is highlighted. What is the agenda?
Habib said the video was deliberately cropped in a way to misrepresent and that many people had them rushed to judge without the full facts.
“So let me explain what really happened: A student did question SOAS’ responsiveness to anti-black racism and suggested a staff member used the word without consequences.
“I did use the word and said: “if someone used the word ‘n****r’ against another staff member, then it would violate our policy and action would be taken.
“Another student objected arguing that only those who were ‘black‘ (or what I in SA would describe as ‘black African’) could actually verbalise the word. I was taken aback because the case was being argued devoid of any understanding or explanation of the context of my argument.
“I did say that I am surprised by the reaction because I could have made the same statement in the context of the same argument back home without provoking this reaction. I did not say we use the word in SA. This is a deliberate distortion used for despicable political agendas.