By Gaby Ndongo (4 mins read)
Condescending utterances of Wits students about the intelligence of students studying at UJ were to me as “rumours have it”, like Adele sang in her album titled 21.
This hastily changed in my first encounter with a mass of Wits students as an Orange Army fellow in 2016, during my first year as a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism student.
I was idling in Facebook, looking for good news or educational content. Then here they were: a few replies made by Wits students to the members of the Army in response to a post.
It was a set of comments that formed a battle ground of messages, dating back a couple of days from the first time I gazed at them.
One of the replies was that, “Wits students are undeniably cleverer than UJ students.”
Ehh! I paused and thought. Thought. Thought some more. Not saying anything. I thought tentatively.
Then my fingers did not find the need and courage to entertain the fool who made such a ‘statement’. Do not mix my words – something that you yearn doing.
I use the word ‘fool’, which is the singular form of the noun, to mean that I am not saying that all Wits students are fools except for this individual and the limited number of people who support as well as agree with his ‘statement’.
I say so due to several reasons.
Firstly, considering the quality of the knowledge found at Wits, one would have expected this dude to know how to quantify generalisations. At least.
It is very embarrassing for him not to know and we need to admit it with no regret.
The process of quantifying generalisations using words such as ‘most’ or phrases like ‘a number of’ is necessary for any form of cautious language, a crucial item in a parlance that Wits provides at a large scale.
Oh, I forgot to tell you. I meant formal English.
Now, let me inform you of why the individual could not do so: it is because he tangles his mental capacity uniquely to the physical, educational environment he finds himself, being obliviate of the multifaceted elements influencing a person’s intellectual development.
One of these aspects is a personal will to endlessly learn about the world and the people it caters for.
To him, I am sure he sees himself as super clever because of simply stepping into Wits West campus, for instance.
If this is not enough, take into account that perusing two campuses in one day elates his state of mind to a milieu that he thinks he is a laurate of some sort.
To say the least, I was disgusted by this dude.
Is this the time you finally talk?
In retrospect, the most amusing part of the Facebook scenario is witnessing the same people, whose intellectual faculties and achievements in high school were not audible, finding ungrounded boldness to comment about how mentally superior they “are” because they study at Wits.
But you may argue to say that formal, institutionalised education is not the only means to measure and express mental aptitudes. That is quite true.
In this case, it is simply another supporting argument because these self-proclaimed geniuses from Wits could rarely engage in any meaningful interaction in our high school days.
What they did best is to cram and pass, blame those who studied their notes of using normal textbook terms as acting in a poupous manner.
She was amazed by a UJ student’s stream of thoughts
Don’t get me wrong, it is not a way of allaying anger, but the truth is that Wits is not appealing to every person who seeks to further his/her tertiary education. Some prefer other institutions in South Africa or even abroad.
But I am perplexed to hear “You sound like a Wits student and not like someone from UJ” coming out of the mouth of a colleague from a daily newspaper where I was an intern.
Her words reminded me of the situation that UJ students are found. We always have to prove our intelligence despite the work output we have already produced.
It is a common practice for most Wits students to condescend, oversimplify and then generalise the thinking ability of UJ students.
Specifically, our thinking aptitudes are relegated to those of a “high school” across the road, while theirs is that of “a top ranked global university”. Rubbish, parochial thinking. TOJ
Gaby Ndongo is the Editor of The Open Journal and a freelance journalist at GroundUp. He is currently doing his Honours degree in Journalism at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and he occupies a BA Journalism tutor post at the University. Writing by Gaby Ndongo; Editing by Hendrica Nkoana. Feature image: Gaby Ndongo. Image courtesy to Magnificent Mndebele.