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SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1933. Volume 4. Number 6.

From Open Veldt to N.Z. Fernland — Student's Impressions

page 6

From Open Veldt to N.Z. Fernland

Student's Impressions

In speaking about the necessity for skilled and trained students in Africa, the writer says:—

A number of teaching positions in our Missionary Schools are now filled by matriculated students. Therefore, there is still room for African graduates.

Many Government bodies are now realising this demand for qualified Africans. The Trauskeian Territories General Council is providing 50 scholarships for native students at Fort Hare College. It has also voted medical scholarships for native students going abroad. I am getting one of these scholarships.

Now, would it be wise for any Bantu student to remain in New Zealand, when there are such opportunities awaiting him in Africa? Why should he think of remaining in New Zealand when there are lands, cattle, sheep, and horses which he would get in his country without payment?

Characteristics of the Bantu.

One of the outstanding qualities of the Africans is their courteousness. They are courteous in their contact with others and in their expressions. Senior people must be addressed as father, mother, brother, or sister. Laughter is their outstanding characteristic. They laugh even in the most trying circumstances. They have a deep sense of gratitude for kindness or favour done. An African sometimes presents an ox to a descendant of people who did a good turn to his ancestors two or three generations back. They have a sense of humour. Most of their humour is expressed in action more than in words. They have a gift for languages—English, Afrikans, Greek and Latin do not form a stumbling block to African students.

They are communistic people. If an ox is strangled in one home, members of the tribe are entitled to the feast. They are friendly and sociable, but can be very unsociable and unfriendly when they have cause to do so.

They have a soul for music. When working on the roads and in the fields they work with a musical accompaniment, one man being the precentor, others joining in the chorus.

Nature has given them remarkable patience. They have patience in their work and with others. Their patience might be judged by the way in which they have borne white domination for so many years without civil disobedience.

They like living in peace, but when they take to the fight either they must be destroyed or their enemies.

They have world-wide renown for their loyalty to friend and Master. One New Zealand gentleman has asked me to look up a native servant who was faithful and loyal to him during the South African War.

On the other hand, Africans are very independent. If an African accepts a gift from one, that person should be sure that that African honours and respects him.

This spirit of independence is due to the fact that tribal custom did not permit dependence on others. A man who did not possess cattle did not enjoy state rights to the same extent as those who possessed cattle.

Although not suffering from race pride, they are very proud of their race and colour. Nothing makes an African think of apoligising to any race for his colour. Africans are extremely sensitive. A facial expression or slight deviation from the recognised form of speech might be taken as a deliberate insult by an African.

Such, then, being the racial characteristics of the African, no Bantu student would think of living in a foreign country, where he would constantly meet with unpleasant remarks levelled against foreigners. Personally I would not live iu a foreign country even for the sake of saving my life.

Sometime back there used to be a narrow slogan, Asia for Asiatics, Africa for Africans, and West for Western people, but our economic and educational interests are so interdependent that such a narrow slogan cannot be put into practice without hindering the progress of the world.

What remains, therefore, is that each country should respect interests and desires of people in other countries. One writer expresses this view well in these words:—

"What we need at the present time is a clear, honest thinking and a realisation of this fact that the things we most need are needed by people in other countries."

New Zealand Students and Foreign Students.

Few students in New Zealand seem to realise the marked difference between the students in New Zealand and in other countries. New Zealand page 7 students differ from the students in other countries in outlook, manner, interests, and in ways of expressions. I say this after meeting English students visiting South Africa for conferences, and after meeting European students in South Africa and Australia, and after studying with African students. These differences may lead to real misunderstandings between New Zealanders and foreigners.

Such expressions as "Dirty Dog, Dirty Cow, Go to Hell" may be taken in a different spirit by foreigners, even if they were not said with intention to offend.

Some time back a European student came to New Zealand and found life so unpleasant among the students that he decided to end his life in a tragic way. Now, I feel sure that another tragedy will be witnessed if no change takes place with a certain group of students in New Zealand. There are students who fling expressions with no regard to other people's feelings.

I have been collecting the impressions of foreign students in New Zealand. One European student informed me that students in New Zealand did not take any interest in him. He informed me that his class males did not speak to him. Another European student told me that students, as well as people in New Zealand, were always telling him that his country is going to the dogs. I also have heard many people saying this of this country. Now, this student felt this remark very much, just as any New Zealander would feel hurt if such a remark was made about New Zealand.

Such being the difference between New Zealand and foreign students, where lies the solution of these differences?

New Zealand students' must endeavour to study the outlook, temperament and disposition of their visitors. Foreign students will reciprocate the compliment by studying the characteristics of New Zealanders, and thus common understanding will be established.