Life on the Cape Flats is brutal and the challenges we face, endless. There are many studies that could help us create the better lives we dream of. Why do you not study these instead? asks the writers. File picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency/ANA
We are members of the Cape Flats Women’s Movement (CFWM), a growing movement of community activists from different Cape Flats communities. We are the demographic of your (Stellenbosch University) study. This is how we feel about your racist study: 

It is true that we generally have low educational levels for historical reasons outside of our control, but despite this we are not idiots.  

1. We are not passive witnesses of history – we are here, we are alive and we are active in shaping our own destinies.

2. Despite everything we face, we manage to keep ourselves, our families and our communities going through our hard work, determination and a commitment to a more just world.

3. If you ever met us, you would find that, just like our mothers and our grandmothers, we actually have super “cognitive functioning” (onsis eintlik kak slim).

4. Despite our unemployment and the smallness of the SASSA grants, we still manage to feed our families, and many others, almost every day. We don’t think you can even begin to imagine what kind of mental ability this takes.

5. Of course, like everyone else, we dream of more healthy lifestyles, but our options are limited by the realities around us. We can't just go out for a stroll in the park, and we have to use what money we have to buy the kinds of foods that can feed the most (whatever makes the langste sous) rather than the most balanced of meals – but even here we try. 

From that high university of yours, all of this might not be easy to see, but you should know the daily creativity and plak it takes for us just to stay alive. 

You really should come meet us.

To the researcher, we don’t really know who you are but if we, with our few years of schooling, can see the absurdity of your study, then maybe it is your “cognitive functioning” that requires some examination? 

We are not well-educated that's true, and life on the Cape Flats is a day to day hustle just to stay alive. Ons skarrel elke dag. Do you know how clever you have to be to be us, and be alive to write this letter to you today? 

To the University of Stellenbosch, you have a lot to answer for:

How does a university like the US – with its historical role in our apartheid oppression - not show extra sensitivity to issues of race and racism? How could it ever be OK to ethically approve a study that sets out to examine us like animals in a zoo? And to do so in 2019, nogals? You should be ashamed of yourselves.

We are all community activists, who quite literally fight for our lives and those of our children every day. Life on the Cape Flats is brutal and the challenges we face endless. There are many studies that could help us create the better lives we dream of. Why not study these instead? Something that could actually be of some help to us. We have heard that you are a rich university – you could make a real contribution to make our lives better if you choose to. Please choose to.

Yes, we’ve heard you say a quiet sorry, but we don’t think sorry is enough. Sorry doesn’t make it anymore. We want to hear from you what are you going to do to make this right?

How will you make right the humiliation we have suffered as a result of a leading SA university declaring us as a group to be stupid? How do you think our children look at us now that a famous university has declared their mothers to be idiots? 

What will you do to ensure that such a hurtful racist study never happens again?


Women of the Cape Flats (Women’s Movement)

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.