It clearly comes as no surprise why Adam Habib’s Rebels and Rage book received an onslaught of criticism from academics, student leaders, politicians and his fellow colleagues at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).
Habib, who is a vice-chancellor at Wits did not hold back on anything in this well-crafted memoir.
Rebels and Rage is Habib’s own personal reflections of the aftermath of the #FeesMustFall student movement which started at his own university and spread across other universities in the country.
In this book, Habib has taken an unpopular position on the events during the #FeesMustFall movement by criticising the #FeesMustFall leaders, SRC leaders and also academics who were sympathetic to the movement.
While he acknowledges that the #FeesMustFall movement was a legitimate course of action seeking social justice, he however, criticises the ‘violent’ methods which student leaders opted to pursue.
Rebels and Rage is a bold, brave and risky, as Habib not only laments the tactics which were deployed by the student leaders in this regard, but goes further to suggest that the leaders were at times acting as handlers of certain political parties and as such were not entirely representing the entire student community.
‘Despite their public pledge that they were representing the students, too many of them were taking instructions from their political parties.’
The book is critiqued heavily on the basis that Habib decided to use the names of the student leaders and academics, with some academics arguing that they were not asked permission from the author or the publisher for their names to be included in the book.
Perusing through this book, a reader will also be taken through funding models and measures that the scribe proposes that the government can take in order to deal with the issue of free fee higher education and addressing the socio-economic issues in the country.
The book has indeed divided opinions and only readers can thus make their own decision to believe Habib’s account in this regard or not.