I commissioned a 75-year old teacher from the Eastern Cape, my former English teacher actually, to write a piece about white patriarchy after countless discussions we had had about general patriarchy over the years. I recently saw her at the East London Youth Conference where I was invited as key note speaker.  I was pleasantly surprised by the youth’s response to some difficult conversations that our country needs to have about racism, patriarchy, sexuality, classism and how these issues are currently manifesting themselves at former Model C Schools.  The girls and boys were super receptive, especially when it came to issues of race and gender.  We went an hour and half over time because the kids were so eager to talk and were grateful that my talk had opened up the opportunity to delve into ”controversial” matters.  They are way ahead of my generation when we were 17 and are able to articulate quite well, a consciousness about the disparities in our country.   One of the best moments of the day though, was when Carol spoke about the insidiousness of and silence around white patriarchy in South Africa and how it plays itself out within the education system – a moment that allowed the white girls in the room to open up about their experiences of patriarchy, both at home and at school.  This is one of the main reasons I wanted this piece for the M&G’s Friday section this week.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Naturally, because she’s always marched to the beat of her own drum, Carol hand wrote the piece instead of emailing it, and had her son scan it to me.

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This article was first published in the Mail & Guardian on Friday 22 April. It appears on page 7.

// Comments (6)
  • R35 is a lot of money. So I buy the Mail & Guardian once in a blue moon. And when I do, I read it from cover to cover. I got to page 7 of the culture section at about 4pm today, and a piece headlined “The art of teaching daddy’s girls” by Carol Fitz-Patrick. What a good read. I had an inkling that I knew the author. How many English teachers in the Eastern Cape, who have been teaching for 50 years, would draft comment like that? I could hear her voice as I read.

    Then I googled [“white patriarchy” south africa] to see what other people are saying on the subject. The first result was a link to the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism. The second was to this blog. Day made! Thank you.

    PS We went to the same school, but I matriculated in 1986.

  • Jen, a past student says:

    I love you Mrs Felton! Sorry, Ms fitz-patrick!

  • Cebokazi says:

    Ah man, my ability to read the hand writing is not as good as I would like it to be. Would have been awesome to get the full affect of the content.

  • Shakti says:

    Loved this read.

    I also recently read (and passed on to friends and family) “You dranked my juice” – oh my hat what an excellent article!
    My reaction to your words were initially guilt followed by shock and later of relief – relieved to see the error of my ways too and to stop being hard on those around me who speak English in a lazy/ sloppy manner (I can be hectic).

    Any who… thank you Milisuthando you are thoroughly refreshing!

  • Jess says:

    The only teacher at school that actually helped prepare me for the real world. I miss that wisdom and the words scrawled on her walls.

  • Thembakazi says:

    I love this article, Ms Felton or rather Ms Fitz Patrick has always been a delight to have nurturing conversations with. I am particularly interested in the discussion of white patriarchy because I feel it is embedded in white supremacy and there needs to be a distinction in what kind of intersectional oppressions we face in order to understand them better. Thank you Mili for your work, this blog is a dream.

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