INSTIGATOR: Ntokozo Qwabe, a "Rhodes Must Fall" activist who campaigned in the UK, caused a heated row over race on Facebook this week after he posted that he and friends had refused to pay a white waitress a tip and instead told her to "return the land." PICTURE: FACEBOOK Reporter Caryn Dolley

Cape Town - A controversial “Rhodes Must Fall” activist sparked an intense race row on social media this week after he posted about how he and other patrons at an Observatory restaurant confronted a white waitress.

Ntokozo Qwabe, who late last year made news for driving a campaign to remove a Cecil John Rhodes statue at Oxford University in the UK, said his friends returned a bill to the waitress saying: “WE WILL GIVE TIP WHEN YOU RETURN THE LAND.”

She cried.

Qwabe took to Facebook to detail the incident at Obz Café on Thursday, promising it was just the start of such acts.

While some lauded his post, others were angered and at one point Qwabe responded: “NOTE: I will NOT be responding to comments from white people on this post. Yall are a mess. A total waste of time, energy & effort.

“Black people: I’ll engage yall as soon as the opportunity presents itself.”

On Friday Qwabe posted about the media: “I hear the white media is going hysterical because a white woman decided to cry over a harmless political statement made in one line on a piece of paper?... WOW. Whiteness is so weak. Cute actually.”

He did not reply to Weekend Argus’s request for comment.

Originally from KwaZulu-Natal, Qwabe studied at Oxford University. It emerged that while campaigning to have the Rhodes statue removed from the university’s Oriel College, he was the recipient of a Rhodes scholarship.

In Qwabe’s Facebook post about this week’s incident, he said he and others, including another activist, had been at Oz Café. When the bill arrived, he asked “said activist what the going rate for tips/gratuity is in these shores. They look at me very reluctantly and they say ‘give me the slip, I‘ll sort that out’. I give them the slip.

“They take a pen & slip in a note where the gratuity/tip amount is supposed to be entered. The note reads in bold: 'WE WILL GIVE TIP WHEN YOU RETURN THE LAND’.”

He posted when the waitress saw it, she “starts shaking... she leaves us & bursts into typical white tears (like why are you crying when all we’ve done is make a kind request? lol!)”.

Qwabe said before leaving he and his friends explained “the political nature” of their actions.

“Moral of the story: the time has come when no white person will be absolved… NO white person shall rest. It is irrelevant whether you personally have land/wealth or you don’t. Go to your fellow white people & mobilise for them to give us the land back. That will be the starting point of all our interactions from now. We will agitate all our spaces with the big question: WHERE IS THE LAND?” he wrote.

Yesterday Obz Café owner Gavin Hagger said

it was “unfortunate and very sad” patrons had “played the political card” after enjoying and paying for a meal.

As Qwabe’s Facebook post continued, one person said: “Hope you feel so chuffed with yourself: belittling another person, insulting them and reducing them to tears.”. Qwabe hit back: “Why are white men here w..king on my wall? Wow. Sies! Go away!”. Another backed him, saying: “F*** them.”

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Weekend Argus