School celebrating Zulu day accused of racism

South African Curro School is again accused of racism. This time a school in Durban is said to reinforce stereotypes with its celebration of a Zulu Day.

Last month Curro Hillcrest Christian Academy School in Durban, South Africa, organized its annual Zulu Day. The Grade 6 pupils were dressed in traditional Zulu attires. They sang and cited Zulu poetry and ate yam and istambu, traditional Zulu dishes were served.

“The purpose of the day is to celebrate and embrace the Zulu culture. To engage and encourage our learners to celebrate, sing, dance and eat in true Zulu style with the Zulu speaking people in our community with whom they share their lives,” Andries Greyling, Curro schools’ chief operation’s officer, writes in an email to Kalangu Magazine.

The good intention has however been accused for being racist as the pupils were asked to bring their domestic caregivers and gardeners for the celebration.

“What is racist about Curro’s decision is that they have chosen to indulge the stereotype and pass it on to the children they teach. They have chosen to have the children who go to their school imagine Zulus are nothing but gardeners and domestic workers. Anyone who is not any of these, will be an exception to the rule or not a ‘true Zulu’, writes Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya, editor at South African The Mercury.

“By specifically asking their children to invite the help instead of the school making the effort to invite academics, artists, writers, scientists and business people, they shortchanged their pupils,” he continues.

The school however dismisses the critique as instigated by a journalist who “did not understand the context and the purpose of the celebration he did not attend.”

Previous racist allegations

The Curro management have several private schools in South Africa. It is not the first time that one of its schools is caught in a race controversy. It was revealed earlier this year that its filial in Roodeplaat, east of Pretoria, separated pupils along what they claimed to be language, English and Afrikaans, but which coincided with a skin color segregation. The school was put under an investigation led by the Gauteng Education Department.

“The findings of the investigation confirmed the allegations that there was indeed segregation of learners at the school. This was confirmed by Curro management and they admitted that this was as a result of pressure from certain white parents,” Gauteng Education Department MEC Panyaza Lesufi said in presenting the outcome of the investigation.

Lesufi added that the Curro Roodeplaat had been recommended training on an annual basis for school management and teachers at the school. Nevertheless, he has threatened to revoke licences of schools that act racist and said private schools needed to know they were not “immune from the laws of the country”.

“Unfortunate”

Andries Greyling at Curro Durban says that previous racial allegations are “unfortunate” and says that they have used the incidents as “opportunities to learn and embrace the complexities of our society to the long-term benefit of South Africa’s children.”

The school has a similar day in which it celebrates the Afrikaans culture.


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Sumbu Temo

27 years old journalist student and dreamer from Stockholm