It's not right, says Qwabe's dad
Durban - “You can’t correct wrong things by also acting wrong. I am very shocked by the things I read about my son.”
Those were the words of Felokwakhe Qwabe, 65, the father of Rhodes Must fall activist Ntokozo Qwabe, 25, a Master’s International law student at Oxford University in the UK who made headlines after making a waitress cry at a restaurant in Cape Town.
Qwabe senior said he intended to discipline his son.
“I have not spoken to him about his actions because he lives far from me and he doesn’t call often as it is costly. I have only heard these stories through the media. I want to sit down with him, tell him that he is young and he needs to follow proper procedures when he is not happy about something.
“It’s not right that he can correct wrongs by behaving wrong. I also want him to tell me his side of the story,” he said.
The young man made headlines for being critical of Cecil Rhodes and his legacy, and has been leading the Rhodes must fall campaign at Oxford University.
He is a former law student from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and received the Rhodes scholarship to further his studies in 2013. This week he was in the news after he and his friends made waitress Ashleigh Schultz cry when they refused to give her a tip, saying they would only do so when white people gave land back to black people.
Since then more than R100 000 has been raised in an online campaign for the waitress, to cover the tip the Oxford student refused to pay because she was white.
Qwabe sr said he was concerned about his son’s safety because of the negative backlash he had received, including a plan to petition Oxford to revoke his scholarship.
“A lot of people are angry at Ntokozo and, as a parent, I am concerned about his safety. My son is not rebellious - he is kind and very intelligent. I don’t understand why he is acting this way, maybe it is because he feels old now.
“I can’t control what he does, but I will definitely talk to him. He needs to ask elders for a way forward on dealing with issues. Things have changed now, it is no longer the same like it used to be when we were growing up ,” Qwabe said.
The Rhodes scholarship recipient, originally from eShowe, made it against all odds. He dropped out of UKZN because of financial constraints and worked as a cashier before returning to the university.
His father said he was proud of his son’s achievement and didn’t want him to lose his scholarship.
“I taught him respect. He has always been a good boy, he knows that without respect you can’t go anywhere. I will take action and, if it doesn’t work, I will call other family members to talk to him because we want the best for him.
“I have never been part of any struggle during tough times, and even when my father’s land was taken away, we have never done anything. For me the past is the past and I don’t think he has ever been discriminated against by white people,” Qwabe said.
He said his son was not politically motivated. “He is viewing situations from a different perspective. I heard on radio that some political party supported him, I don’t know how they got involved because my son has nothing to do with politics, he is just an academic.”
An Oxford University spokesman said: “Oxford is a place where non-violent speech, however objectionable, can be expressed and challenged. Our students may voice opinions which others believe to be misguided or which they find offensive. They have a right to do this, but in exercising it we expect them to respect other people and the law.”