To comb or not? Twitter divided on viral school hair-combing video
JOHANNESBURG: Social media has been left divided after a video surfaced, showing a teacher ferociously combing schoolboys’ hair at the gates of a school suspected to be in Gauteng.
The video shows a female school teacher, who has her mask worn below her chin, ordering a group of schoolboys who have supposedly arrived at school with their hair uncombed, lining up to be combed.
The manner in which the teacher combs the pupils’ hair has been widely condemned. But some, in doing so, have also said the pupils were in the wrong for coming to school with uncombed hair.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi described the video as “completely unacceptable” and ordered his team of officials to get more information about the video.
The Gauteng Education Department has yet to furnish any information about the video and the school in question has yet to be identified.
Said Lesufi: “We’ve many kids absconding from school or committing suicide on small things that happened at school and they become scared to come back to school.
“It might sound petty, but the number of learners taking wrong decisions, it’s massive. As I said, I am for discipline, not humiliation.”
Schools’ codes of conduct routinely stipulate that hair should be kept neat and tidy.
But in recent years, the issue of hair and schools has become a sensitive subject after Pretoria High School for Girls was rocked by fierce protests after black girls were not allowed to wear their Afros.
The EFF’s national communications manager, Sixo Gcilishe supposedly tweeted in support of the pupils, saying: “We are not combing a damn thing.” She also posted a picture of her uncombed hair.
We are not combing a damn thing. pic.twitter.com/2WTZgEegG1— Sixo Gcilishe (@SixoGcilishe) March 23, 2021
But many were in disagreement with the pupils’ uncombed hair, saying pupils had to be disciplined and follow the school’s code of conduct.
One Twitter use said even Steve Biko combed his hair.
“So don't be bothered by "Deputy Biko" and "Vice Sankara" here on Twitter. Combing the hair is not an exclusively European thing. Africans have been doing it for millennia.”
Steve Biko also combed his hair, and that didn't mean that he had a "colonised mind".— Jimmy Ramokgopa (@JimmyRamokgopa) March 23, 2021
So don't be bothered by "Deputy Biko" and "Vice Sankara" here on Twitter.
Combing the hair is not an exclusively European thing.
Africans have been doing it for millennia. https://t.co/RdX4mXGgbG pic.twitter.com/8CroZWGpIZ
My little bro has this kind of hair. He combed and made it neat for school, then came back and did all sorts of things to it during the holidays. Everyone happy 😊— Mrs Mphela💍 (@kgabomaila_) March 22, 2021
Just be neat at school. Bambatha moriri o be neat. No one will lose their identitity, i promise.. https://t.co/7nl05ONpBZ
We must moer Lesufi and Ndlozi, if that teacher is suspended or fired.— Thuso™ 🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦 (@ramalokot) March 22, 2021
That teacher did nothong wrong, we grew up kanjeyana...going to school neat and tidy, hair combed or cut and shoes polished— Salusiwe Majeke 🇮🇹 (@Salu_Dynamite) March 22, 2021
People are struggling to grasp that it is not only combed hair that is neat and tidy. I agree with you, if the hair is dirty they should've been cleaned, not combed. Dirty hair can still combed as well. One cannot tell me that is neat and tidy.— Menzi Mdlanyoka (@menzi_mdlanyoka) March 23, 2021
Panyaza must not use this hair story to reinvent himself. He must tell us about the R400m— John Potsane (@john_skimo) March 22, 2021
Instead of addressing the shortage of space in Gauteng Public Schools, Lesufi would rather grab the attention on this hair issue with both hands to market himself as the best MEC in the country. Where is space for kids? He should focus on that— MAPS ZA🇿🇦 (@Maps_pj) March 23, 2021
Others believed the black teacher combing the schoolboy’s hair was “anti-black”.
“Most hair school policies ban afros and dreadlocks at black schools. Why do you love embracing anti-black systems so much?”
Those who argue in support of the teacher who combed the student's hair talking about hair school policies forget that hair school policies are anti-black. Most hair school policies ban afros and dreadlocks at black schools. Why do you love embracing anti-black systems so much?— Melanin T (@Melanin_Mmaps) March 23, 2021
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the teacher’s conduct was anti-black and called for her to be brought to book. He accused the teacher of teaching black pupils to hate their hair.
This is child abuse, black self hate and definitively illegal. This woman must be found and put to the book. You can’t teach kids to hate their hair... NO! Her treatment of black hair is the same as that of white racists who tell black kids to remove or hide their Afro’s! https://t.co/RIfgcGwdiv— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) March 22, 2021
Commentator Eusebius McKaiser said the hair policing by teachers was a distraction.
Imagine what a brilliant country we could yet be if educators- and some among us- obsessed as much about Black children's ability to read, write, count and think critically, as they- you- obsess about whether their hair is as straight, 'calm' and 'tidy'as Boet en Saartjie's hair. pic.twitter.com/5MKZ3a6V5k— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) March 23, 2021
"Every school have a code of Conduct nton nton" that's nonsensical. That teacher has no right whatsoever to be violently combing student hair n she should be brought to book n fired so that she can go and work e-Saloon.— 🇿🇦🏳️🌈Mandlakazi (@SphamandlaM_) March 23, 2021
Ndlozi | Aldrin pic.twitter.com/wFWlz1dgUO
Clicks classified black Hair as Dirty today them Black people are saying that uncombed Hair is dirty...The same black people who were up in arms protesting against Clicks amaphixiphixi abantu "Colonizers must be really proud" |Aldrin pic.twitter.com/QasDZQWc1w— 🇿🇦🏳️🌈Mandlakazi (@SphamandlaM_) March 23, 2021
Hair is very much political in any setting. Things escalate very quickly. Leave people's hair. If someone else's hair makes YOU feel uncomfortable that's a YOU problem.— Aldrin Sampear (@AldrinSampear) March 22, 2021