An Open Letter to UCT students: “beware when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster”

A message to the UCT students.

Hi, my name is Herman and I suffer from mental illness.

I have been waiting 25 years to study. Only to see it not come to pass due to my illness. I would really love to study. I was a very bright kid in school, achieving 9 distinctions in my grade 10 year, only to see that waste away due to illness. The discrimination against me? Due to my illness? I should be burning down entire universities never mind art. But I don’t. I choose to educate myself. I teach myself what I know, until such time that I can study. I hope that by that time there will be someplace left in South Africa where I can study.

Not only that, I am not even white middle class since people want to turn this into race. I am a poor white that lives of the ridiculous R1400 state pension that the state gives to people like me. Was it not for the kindness of others I would live on the street. Does that stop me? No, I have a life, I make something of my life, with no money and no education. I don’t have medical insurance, I have to go to a state clinic. I can’t even apply for a job, since unlike you, I never completed school. Does that stop me? Does that make me burn art? No, I do something positive with all the negative that was given to me.

I will study one day. I hope to one day maybe get a Phd in Law or Latin. I hope to change things for animals and the mentally ill. And you know what, not one single thing was handed to me on a platter my entire life. Not one. I fight every day to survive, but I don’t destroy in the process.

Here you are. You have the opportunity to study. Yet, you dance on tables and you burn paintings. That is a disgrace. Destruction of property is a criminal act. Destruction of art a crime against the world. The person that created that art, he or she has nothing to do with your struggle. They poured their hearts and souls into that art. Only to have you destroy it. Art cannot be replaced.

I really wish I could study. Yet, here you are, you can. But you choose to burn paintings and dance on tables. I wish I could look at beautiful art in a University.

Maybe you should be worth the name of the institution you are studying at. Maybe you should say thank you, I can study. I am all for students, I am all for free education. But what I will never agree with is the hate and the destruction that goes with the fighting. Remember this.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche.

Maybe you should study, I wish I could.


Someone that wants to study.

(PS – if I can have a life, so can you, stop burning paintings and start painting. You are all beautiful young people, use that and have, and make, a beautiful life)

First seen on Facebook.

Disclaimer: This is an open letter and opinion piece. It does not reflect the editorial position of nor any of its employees, contractors and agents.