How critical race theory slowly poisoned St Mary’s Waverley

Richard Wilkinson | Jan 08, 2024
In a sequel to The Woke Witch-Hunt at St Mary’s Waverley, Richard Wilkinson explains how, over a decade, St Mary’s Waverley succumbed to ideological capture by a self-referential mob of Woke activists, consultants and lawyers. Richard sets out proposals for how the school can rediscover its classical liberal foundations. It is a long read.

Skip to Main Content

Long read   



7 JANUARY 2024

In November last year, I published an essay entitled The Woke Witch-Hunt at St Mary’s Waverley. In it, I set out why the investigative report into racism and “microaggressions” at the school which was published by Advocate Thandi Orleyn and Zanele Masoek is fundamentally flawed in numerous respects.

It is telling that what should be the core components of the Orleyn-Masoek Report – the allegations and the findings – take up barely more than a page and are dealt with in a brisk and vague manner. Instead, far more space is devoted to covering the history of transformation at St Mary’s Waverley as well as to providing the reader with an overview of how the principles of Critical Race Theory have infiltrated the school’s policy framework. In so doing, the authors of the Report – quite inadvertently – provide a fascinating and disturbing insight into how Woke activism can poison a school and cause immense harm to teachers and children.

In this essay, I intend to explain how, over the period of a decade, St Mary’s Waverley gradually succumbed to ideological capture by a self-referential mob of Woke activists, consultants and lawyers. I also set out proposals for how the school can rediscover its classical liberal foundations and re-establish itself as a kind and welcoming institution that is committed, above all else, to academic excellence and high standards of discipline.

Woke harassment of white teachers

The “anti-racism” activism which erupted so sensationally in June 2020 was not the first racism controversy to undermine St Mary’s Waverley. In 2017, an incident occurred when a white teacher was introducing House Leaders to the parents of the newly starting Grade 8 class. Unfortunately, the white teacher froze when she reached a certain black colleague and could not remember the person’s name.[1]

This was, of course, an embarrassing mistake, but it would not be the first time that someone has blanked out when speaking in public. As one teacher also explained to me, teachers often refer to one another on a first-name basis, meaning that they sometimes have difficulty remembering their colleagues’ surnames when having to address them professionally as Mr X or Mrs Y.  

I would have thought that an apology and a private reprimand for this misdemeanour would have been sufficient. Not so. According to the Orleyn-Masoek Report:

          “Although all the staff interviewed, black and white staff, mentioned that apologies had been given and accepted,                                      what remained, however, was the visible discomfort and lingering trauma from such experiences present in the black                              teachers interviewed. This is trauma that could not be healed through an apology alone…”[2]

It is difficult to take this remark seriously. “Trauma” is what you feel after being involved in a serious car crash, or when you witness family members being assaulted or killed during a home invasion. “Trauma” is not the appropriate way to describe a situation from more than three years ago in which someone forgot the name of a work colleague. Indeed, the idea that this relatively trivial incident caused long-lasting trauma to staff is an excellent example of the exaggerated catastrophising that often marks Woke activism.

St Mary’s Waverley decided to launch an “independent intervention” led by a firm that specialises in promoting “diversity and inclusion”. This involved the entire staff participating in a day of workshops.[3] As is common with these initiatives, the arrival of “diversity” consultants only aggravated matters. Orleyn and Masoek report as follows:

          “Feedback received from some of the teachers who participated in this intervention noted how the workshop                                            mirrored many racial undertones that may be prevalent around the school culture, specifically around questioning                                    the competency and professionalism of black educators in these spaces.”[4]

         “Some black members of staff noted the intervention left many white members of staff negative and defensive                                         rather than reflective leaving them feeling more of a minority within the school than as an integrated component of                                   the school.”[5]

          “The feedback from many white members of staff was that it had been a waste of time. Teachers were noted                                            to be critical of the process resulting in strain to some relationships amongst teachers.”[6]

The school decided that the best way to remedy this disharmony would be to undertake more diversity training – but this time exclusively for white staff.[7] So, 35 white teachers were then subjected to an additional round of “Racial Literacy Workshops”, run by a colleague who has a PhD in the topic. These workshops consisted of three one-hour sessions which “were deliberately framed for white teachers as a means of holding them accountable to self-reflect and grapple with the concepts of white privilege, microaggressions and unconscious bias without imposing a duty on black members of staff to educate them on this area.”[8] Sadly, these workshops appear to have been just as divisive as the earlier round, with some members of staff “in denial about their actions and how they could affect others.”[9]

This outcome should not be surprising. There is now extensive academic research supporting the view that American-style “diversity and transformation” workshops are, in fact, worse than merely ineffectual. Musa Al-Gharbi is a sociologist at Columbia University in New York City.[10] His research indicates that diversity training is “overwhelmingly ineffective” at achieving its stated goals.[11] Al-Gharbi states that “not only is there no evidence that training on microaggressions is valuable for improving the well-being of people from historically marginalised or disadvantaged groups, there is reason to believe it could actually be counter-productive to that end.”[12] Similarly, Harvard professor, Frank Dobbin, has written that “hundreds of studies dating back to the 1930s suggest that antibias training does not reduce bias, alter behavior or change the workplace.”[13]

Many transformation-and-diversity consultants seem to take a sadistic pleasure in upsetting their audiences. Indeed, Orleyn and Masoek explicitly state that diversity workshops are meant to be uncomfortable by design:

          “It is disheartening that individuals view diversity and inclusion workshops as unnecessary or a place of                                                      discomfort. They are a place of discomfort intentionally as within that discomfort one must grapple with                                                    their shortcomings on areas within themselves; areas they are unaware are existing nor how they present                                                    themselves to others.”[14]

Another feature of these workshops is that they typically give rise to extremely annoying and self-indulgent virtue signaling by some participants at the expense of their colleagues. St Mary’s Waverley was not spared this sanctimony:

          “One white member of staff falling within the group tasked with supporting those reflecting, noted how her                                                group struggled to support black members of staff’s pain and how she found herself being the only individual                                            in the group speaking in support of others.”[15]

          “Another senior white member of staff reported to investigators how she believed that there was not enough                                              reflection and people were left with open wounds after the intervention leaving the staff more divided as the                                              intentions of the intervention, unfortunately, did not match the outcomes in that it polarised the staff as it left                                            many black teachers feeling isolated after this.”[16]

What is extraordinary is how a single, relatively trivial incident – where a white teacher forgot the name of a black colleague – was used to trigger an avalanche of workshops, culminating in teachers effectively being told by Orleyn and Masoek that they must submit to the new Woke orthodoxy or leave the school:

          “Unfortunately, despite intervention some may remain unchanged and unreflective, and some may not be                                                    in a space where they are able to adapt quickly enough to the changing landscape of consciousness that                                                   exists within the emerging youth of today… This is an indication that the school may need to recruit teachers                                             that can truly evidence the dynamics required that ensures the values of the school are preserved.”[17]

Frankly, it is a miracle that anyone still wanted to turn up to work in an environment this toxic.   

Woke bullying of white children

More disturbing than the ongoing harassment of white teachers at St Mary’s Waverley is the revelation that many white children have been subjected to abuse and intimidation under the cover of “anti-racism” activism. Orleyn and Masoek state that:

          “It needs to be highlighted that often when pupils of colour express their opinions and emotions                                                                    on race-related matters, they are viewed as aggressive and attacking white pupils when sharing their                                                            own experiences. Many examples of teachers, black and white, intervening in conversations to seemingly                                                  manage the conversations and emotions that flare up are received as the chastisement of an expression                                                    by black pupils.”[18]

One child who was interviewed stated that:

          “if you accuse an individual [white pupil] of expressing racist views, the girl cries and then it becomes about                                              the aggressor rather than the complainant.”[19]

These paragraphs clearly indicate that several white girls have been targeted by mobs of “anti-racism” activists and subjected to bullying, causing some of them to burst into tears. This is certainly not unusual in South African English-language girls’ schools. I have spoken with numerous parents at St Anne’s College, Roedean, St Stithians Girls’ College, St Mary’s DSG (Pretoria), Cornwall Hill College and Herschel Girls School whose daughters have been subjected to similar abuse. In many cases, this bullying was ignored or even validated by school officials. Many children have had to be withdrawn from schools and referred for specialist psychological treatment. Indeed, the bullying of one Roedean girl[20] (who is a member of a racial minority) was so severe that it attracted coverage in City Press and The Sunday Times. Reports indicated that the girl who had been bullied had expressed suicidal tendencies and that, at one point, an incident at the school required the intervention of both the Gauteng Department of Education, as well as the South African Police Service.[21]

But Orleyn and Masoek are not particularly concerned about the happiness of white children. In fact, they criticise the teachers for intervening:

          “Black girls being characterised and viewed as aggressive becomes an acceptable narrative imposed on                                                    these pupils rather than an encouragement to all pupils and staff to look at the expression as an experience                                              of the impact such conduct has on the recipient and the lingering feelings that remain despite the time                                                        elapsed since the incident, and despite the intentions of the perpetrator.”[22]

This reflects an inversion of roles which is common to Woke activism: the bully cynically assumes the posture of being the victim. Orleyn and Masoek go on to declare:

          “This results in the continued perception held by black pupils in the school that white fragility is guarded                                                    and protected by the school. That the tears of white pupils often allow for teachers to see the black girls                                                      as attacking and bullying.”[23]

These remarks should make the blood of every parent at St Mary’s Waverley run cold. The references to “white fragility” and “white tears” are further clear indications that concepts from Critical Race Theory (particularly the ideas of Robin DiAngelo) are now prevalent at the school, concepts which American author, James Lindsay, describes as being a form of “identity-based sadism.”[24]

One current parent of St Mary’s Waverley provided me with an example of how “anti-racism” activists attempt to entrap their targets. According to the parent, a group of black girls approached a white girl in the playground. One of the black girls started eating a banana. “What does this remind you of?”, said the black girl playfully to the white girl. Some of the black girl’s friends started making gestures and noises imitating monkeys. “COME ON… just say it! What does this remind you of?” Of course, if the white girl were to respond by saying “A monkey”, then she would be promptly reported to the school’s leadership for racism with the relevant context obviously being disregarded.

Aside from these anecdotes, the Orleyn-Masoek Report provides the following quantitative data[25] (red highlighting added by me) which indicate that white children might not have been entirely comfortable at St Mary’s Waverley over the past few years. 

School demographics chart.jpg

Something stands out straight away: what is going on in the boarding houses?

As recently as 2010, the boarding houses at St Mary’s Waverley were truly multi-racial, hosting 37 black girls, 25 white girls and 1 Indian girl. But, by 2020, this balance had completely disintegrated. The boarding houses were now 95% black, with only two white girls remaining. Orleyn and Masoek state that “It is surprising that despite the demographics of the school historically being majority white pupils, that there are boarding houses that comprise of mostly black girls.”[26]

Well, indeed. The exodus of white children should at least raise some questions. There might not be anything sinister at hand. Perhaps the explanation relates to economic factors? But maybe the investigators should have interviewed some of the white girls who resided in the boarding house to determine why they left en masse?

This is not the approach that the investigators took. Instead, Orleyn and Masoek remark that “There may be valid reasons for maintaining the boarding houses in the demographic split they have; however, it should be recognised how this could perpetuate feelings of exclusion and stereotypes of black girls.”[27]

The boarding houses are now almost entirely black, yet Orleyn and Masoek are concerned about black girls feeling “excluded” and “stereotyped”? How does this make sense? The impression that I am left with is that – in the minds of the transformationalists – St Mary’s Waverley will not be truly “diverse” and “inclusive” until every white girl and every white teacher has been driven out. And, even then, there will still be complaints that the black girls and teachers who remain in the school are somehow “stigmatised” and subjected to feelings of “exclusion”.

Whole-of-school transformation/deformation

In providing an overview of transformation initiatives at the school, the Orleyn-Masoek Report highlights a number of instances of institutional vandalism. Some of these stunts are relatively petty, whilst others are more serious.

Removal of the Voortrekker plaque

At some point before 2020, St Mary’s Waverley decided to remove a plaque which commemorated the Voortrekkers, the 19th Century pioneers who ventured into the southern African hinterland after deciding that they had had enough of British rule in the Cape. Quite why this plaque inspired such disdain at St Mary’s Waverley is not entirely clear.

In my opinion, the question here is simple: are Afrikaners a legitimate and valued cultural group in South African society? If the answer to this question is “yes”, then a plaque of this kind is a fitting way to honour their forebears. In fact, considering the contested and sometimes violent history between English and Afrikaans South Africans, the placing of a plaque recognising an important part of Afrikaner culture should be regarded as a commendable gesture of goodwill by an English school. The only reason I can think of for removing the plaque is that the answer to the question posed above is, in fact, “no”, and that removing the plaque forms part of a broader attempt to delegitimise and erase a South African minority group.  

You might imagine that this event would be upsetting for Afrikaans members of the St Mary’s Waverley community. After all, is the removal of the Voortrekker plaque not a textbook example of a “microaggression”, especially considering the fact that Afrikaners are a politically marginalised minority in South Africa? Does this not relegate Afrikaners to being “second-class citizens” or “aliens in their own land”, as contemplated in Derald Wing Sue’s analysis of “microaggresions”?

But this is not the perspective that Orleyn and Masoek take:

          “On many occasions the removal of the Voortrekker plaque was mentioned by some of the pupils as an example of the                            school’s history haunting the present and reminding pupils of-colour that the school does not truly belong to them and is                        not a place for them.”[28] (my emphasis)

So, according to Orleyn and Masoek, the removal of the Voortrekker plaque is regarded as being an upsetting event for black children. This does not make sense. But, once again, we can see the bizarre tendency of Woke activists to launch unprovoked attacks on other people, whilst simultaneously adopting the posture of being the victims.

The Parents of Black Girls Forum and decolonisation

More concerning has been the emergence of a faction called the “Parents of Black Girls Forum”. It is not clear what the membership of this group is, nor is it clear whether this group has any credible claim to be able to speak on behalf of all or even a majority of black families.

One of the initiatives of the Parents of Black Girls Forum has been to hold a seminar “on why a leading African School like St Mary’s should provide a decolonised education.”[29] This seems to have run parallel with other initiatives in this area, with Orleyn and Masoek noting that:

          “The class on decolonising literature has been running for five years educating the girls on whose                                                                 voice is centred and who is at the margins when consuming literature and media.”[30]

However, it is far from clear that “decolonisation” enjoys support from the rest of the parent body – black or white. Indeed, the feedback which I have received from numerous teachers and heads of schools across South Africa is that black parents are often the most vociferous in demanding that their children receive a classical, liberal education that is internationally recognised and have little-to-no time for “decolonisation”. I strongly suspect that the people who assume that “decolonisation” will be popular with black South African parents are about as deluded as those who thought that “defund the police” would be a winning slogan with black Americans (opinion polling[31] shows that it most certainly is not).

Orleyn and Masoek also make a great deal of St Mary’s Waverley’s heritage:

          “It is accordingly important to recognise the unconscious dynamic ever-present in the pupils of colour’s                                                      psyche when entering an institution that may have memorabilia rooted in colonial pasts that seemingly                                                        celebrates this history.”[32] 

It is true that St Mary’s Waverley was a product of the English culture that spread across the world in the 19th and 20th Centuries. But what is often overlooked is that the early families at St Mary’s Waverley would have been hard, tough and poor: tradesmen and hunters, prospectors and bricklayers; people who, for whatever reason, had found themselves cast on the fringes of the British Empire and who were driven to try to make something of their lives in the hard African soil. The people who founded St Mary’s Waverley in 1888 gave their lives to the school and would die long before it achieved its current prominence.

And even if the school still exhibits features of English culture – what Orleyn and Masoek call “archaic structures and practices”[33] – is it necessary that these attributes should inspire a deep loathing and disdain in the current generation? Is there nothing from our past that can be appreciated, conserved and used to serve the future hour? Does it all have to be torn down, burnt and ground to dust?

The cancellation of Helen Zille 

This is probably an appropriate moment to mention the bizarre episode in which the former leader of the Democratic Alliance (“DA”), Helen Zille, was cancelled from reading a Bible passage at a school reunion.

Zille attended St Mary’s Waverley in the 1960s. Her parents had fled separately from Germany to South Africa in the 1930s to avoid Nazi persecution because of the fact that Zille’s maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother were Jewish. Ultimately, the Holocaust would claim the lives of nine members of her extended family.

By any measure, Zille must rank among the most eminent of the school’s alumni. Zille spent her formative years as a prominent anti-Apartheid activist and a journalist who played a leading role in exposing the truth behind the death of Steve Biko. In the democratic era, she was elected as the Mayor of Cape Town and pioneered an alternative model of governance which culminated in her being selected from among 820 nominees to receive the 2008 World Mayor Award. She would go on to serve two full terms as the Premier of the Western Cape, during which time she was indisputably the predominant figure of the Liberal tradition of South African politics. She remains an important political figure, serving as the Chairperson of the DA’s Federal Council.

The year 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of St Mary’s Waverley’s Matric class of 1968, and the Old Girls had arranged a reunion. Zille was invited by the organising committee to read a passage from the Bible during a chapel service that was part of the programme.[34] Of course, not everyone would share Zille’s views or be a supporter of her political activities. However, you would think that it would be acceptable for Zille to do something as apolitical and inoffensive as reading a passage from the Bible.

Not so.

The head of the school, Ms. King, called Zille and explained that some of the Grade 12 girls had made it clear that they would protest the event if Zille did not withdraw from the programme.[35] Their grievance appears to have centred on remarks contained in a series of tweets in which Zille essentially stated that the legacy of colonialism was not only negative, because it had left a legacy of infrastructure and institutions upon which democratic South Africa could build. Indeed, St Mary’s Waverley could be regarded as being part of that beneficial legacy.

Ultimately, Zille would attend the event, but did not give a reading from the Bible during the chapel service. She later said to me that the atmosphere which she encountered at her former school was one of the most hostile that she had ever experienced. “At least they didn’t throw chairs at me,” she said. 

This may all seem to be remarkably petty but there is, in fact, an important principle at play here: if someone of Helen Zille’s immense profile can be censored, shunned and cancelled, what hope is there for anyone else at St Mary’s Waverley who resists the Woke Ascendancy?

The airbrushing and rewriting of history

Perhaps what is most interesting about the Orleyn-Masoek Report is not the information that it presents but, rather, the information which has been omitted.

Sadly (but not at all surprisingly), no mention is made of the strong anti-Apartheid stance that St Mary’s Waverley took over the years. As far back as 1974 – two years before the Soweto uprising – the school’s headmistress, Mrs Pitt, pioneered the introduction of Zulu as a school subject and appointed the school’s first black teachers. This was done in direct contravention of government regulations.[36] According to the school’s website, the opposition of St Mary’s Waverley’s leadership to racial discrimination was explicit, public and unequivocal:

          “Mrs Pitt and the Board are in agreement on the most important of all issues, the government’s racial policies:                                          even if the school is threatened with closure, they will defy them.”[37]

In 1979, the school admitted its first black student, Nomonde Mtshazo, who was later joined by her sister.[38] According to the school’s website, under the leadership of Mrs Pitt, “The trickle of black children entering the school [became] a steady flow in the 1980s.”[39]

                                             St Mary’s Waverley’s first black student, Nomonde Mtshazo, and her former                                                                                                     headmistress, Mrs Pitt, meeting after more than 20 years.[40]

 Ms Mtshazo would later write:

           “Mrs Pitt was an awe-inspiring woman who was prepared to put her job on the line and accept this teenage                                                 black student who was part of the Soweto student uprising. How brave of her. However, that was so much                                                   like Mrs Pitt.”[41]

Ms Mtshazo also states on the school’s website that her favourite teacher was, in fact, her Afrikaans teacher.[42]

Interestingly, the most fervent opposition to black children attending St Mary’s Waverley did not come from white teachers or parents at the school or, even, from the Apartheid government. Instead, it came from the so-called “liberation parties”. St Mary’s Waverley had to protect many of their black students who faced threats of violence and intimidation from political activists who accused them of being sell-outs.[43]

To implement all of these reforms in the 1970s and 1980s – at the height of Apartheid – would have required a great deal of courage and skill for, in admitting black students such as Ms Mtshazo, the school unambiguously broke Apartheid law. But this does not fit the narrative of St Mary’s Waverley being a racist school and, so, all of this has been ignored and omitted from the official story presented by Orleyn and Masoek. I doubt whether many of the current cohort of St Mary’s Waverley girls are even aware of this history, such is the one-sided anti-white propaganda that they have been subjected to over the past decade.

Another overlooked issue is the ESKOM / Walter Sisulu bursary which has enabled a number of black girls to attend the school.[44]


                                                          Mrs Albertina Sisulu with girls at St Mary’s Waverley in 2005

Gender ideology

Finally, a Woke Revolution would not be complete without Critical Race Theory’s evil twin – Gender Ideology – at least making an appearance.

Orleyn and Masoek note concerns about the “over-sexualisation of platonic relationships” and call for “education and appreciation for the need for continued gender non-conformity conversations.”[45] They declare that “Gender identity is noted to be spoken about from feminist lenses and not necessarily from an understanding of gender non-conformity.”[46]

To be honest, I am not at all sure what to make of this garbled rhetoric, but it appears that Gender Ideology has had a harder time than Critical Race Theory at gaining traction at the school. This is something to cheer.

Understanding Woke Incorporated

At this point we are left with an important and vexing question: where does this madness come from? To answer this question, it is necessary to consider three separate points.

The Long March of the Woke Left

The first point that needs to be made is that the events of June 2020 did not happen out of nowhere. The Orleyn-Masoek Report makes clear that there has, in fact, been an ominously rising tide of Woke activism at St Mary’s Waverley for quite a while:

          “Focus groups amongst the girls began being organised intermittently in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015 with                                                    regular focus groups beginning from 2016 wherein discussions on diversity were held amongst the girls in                                                  different grades.”[47]

           “A formal diversity committee led by the Head of Diversity was introduced which comprised the girls from                                                  different grades however headed by a Form 4. The work of the diversity committee has grown over the years                                              from the girls organising and running one assembly per term since 2010 with topics ranging from white                                                      privilegemicroaggressions, LGBTQIA+ to physical disability and women’s rights. These conversations also                                               looked at signs and symbols around the school, dealing with culturally and economically insensitive comments                                         in class, black consciousness vs being anti-white as well as misandry vs feminism.”[48]

         “The Diversity Committee meets weekly and assists with the running of focus groups which are scheduled                                                 before school begins. Their work encompasses organising diversity evenings for the parent body since 2015                                             and running Heritage Day celebrations wherein debate and discussions have been encouraged in conversations                                         held around cultural appropriation and hair.”[49] (All emphasis above added by me)

And so, we can see that a steady process of indoctrination has been taking place at St Mary’s Waverley for over 10 years. Under the guise of promoting diversity, a variety of deeply problematic concepts such as “white privilege”, “microaggressions” and “cultural appropriation” have been introduced and legitimised at the school. These ideas – which all form part of the sprawling doctrine of Wokeness – are presented alongside other worthy and reputable concepts such as being conscious of physical disability and women’s rights. This is strategic, so that bogus Woke concepts and the principles of Critical Race Theory can gradually gain credibility by association.

These initiatives have certainly not fostered a happy and inclusive environment. As Orleyn and Masoek note:

          “Some of the responses received by pupils and teachers indicate this as the focus groups have left pupils                                                  emotionally charged, divided, and misunderstanding each other’s positions.”[50]

Well, of course they did. That is not some unfortunate accident. As we saw above with the interventions arranged for teachers, leaving children emotionally charged, divided and confused is the whole point of diversity and transformation workshops.

Much of the indoctrination appears to be happening at university. The Orleyn-Masoek Report notes that former students of St Mary’s Waverley shared “stories of receiving microaggressions and unresolved incidents within themselves (sic) spread like wildfire amongst teenage girls...”[51] A good example of this can be found in the open letter written by a former head girl of the school called Reatilwe Maroga. Addressed to the entire school community, Maroga demands that:

          “When black students come out about stories or incidents of racism, believe them. They have no reason to lie,                                            and the perpetrators should be dealt with immediately. An apology is no longer enough.”

However, as usual, Maroga’s allegations of racism and discrimination are generally vague and are made without providing any tangible details. Significantly, she refers to “microaggressions” whilst also mentioning “systemic racism”, “white fragility” and “anti-racism”. But what is most noticeable in Maroga’s letter is her endorsement of a diversity consultant called Lovelyn Nwadeyi. Maroga references Lovelyn’s own “open letter” from June 2020 as well as Robin DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility.

I think that it is abundantly clear what is going on here. Five or ten years ago, girls would leave schools such as St Mary’s Waverley in a perfectly happy state and proceed to UCT or Stellenbosch or Wits where they would be indoctrinated into the principles of Critical Race Theory. They would then return to their former schools, radicalised and full of righteous anger, and would inspire their younger colleagues to engage in Woke activism. (These days the indoctrination is happening in the schools, never mind the universities, and it is turbo-charged by cellphones and the toxic influence of social media). As American author James Lindsay explains, “The madness in today’s schools, then, is not some unhappy accident of the last year or even decade but the product of a dedicated march into the schooling institutions by Marxist, neo-Marxist, and Identity Marxist Theorists who have all but completely colonized it.”[52]

Indeed, Orleyn and Masoek are quite explicit in advocating for St Mary’s Waverley to groom young girls to become Woke activists:

          “The school needs to be applauded in the way it has groomed mature, conscious, and self-reflective girls who are                                    charged with the need to change the world. This progressive and liberal environment, although containing its                                              flaws, does appear to have a positive effect on the girls despite the incidents of microaggression that threaten                                          some of this work.”[53]

As an aside, parts of the Woke Revolution are, frankly, unintelligible. For example, one section of the Orleyn-Masoek Report is entitled “Structural barriers to equity perpetuating micro-aggressive behaviours in light of unconscious biases”.[54] What does this mean? I don’t know. It appears to be Woke word-salad.

The intervention of diversity and transformation consultants

The second key point to understand is the influence of a group of highly paid, self-promoting “diversity and transformation consultants” who play a major role in radicalising children. Chief among these is Lovelyn Nwadeyi and her firm, L&N Associates.

According to a newsletter published by the school in May 2021[55], “The Forms I – V girls have also attended sessions on social justice and racial literacy, facilitated by Lovelyn Nwadeyi of L&N Associates.” This followed similar workshops on “racial literacy” that were held with academic and administrative staff which covered topics including “identity, intellectual humility, privilege, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s view on using the ‘n’ word and internalised oppression.”[56] Lovelyn helped reform the Diversity Committee to become the “Transformation and Learning Community”[57] and was due to submit a report to the school in late 2021 which, so far, has not been made available to parents.[58]

To understand why Lovelyn’s appearance at the school is so concerning, I recommend that you read two separate essays which I published last year. In The Dubious Ethics of Lovelyn Nwadeyi and Eusebius McKaiser, I explained how Lovelyn amplified allegations of racism whilst marketing her consulting services to schools across the country. The vast majority of these allegations have turned out to be baseless, wildly exaggerated or (as we have seen at St Mary’s Waverley) validated only when viewed through the warped lens of Critical Race Theory.


In The Long, Sinister Shadow of Robin DiAngelo in South Africa’s Schools I explained how American academics have influenced a cohort of diversity and transformation consultants, most notably Lovelyn, who have gone on to wreak havoc in classrooms and staff rooms around the country.


In my opinion, a big mistake that parents and teachers often make is to think that Wokeness is indigenous to South Africa; that it is part and parcel of the backlash that would inevitably follow decades of Apartheid. No doubt, this is part of the explanation and South Africa certainly provides fertile soil for this ideology to flourish. However, to understand what is actually happening here, it is important to analyse and understand the origins of this mind virus which most certainly lie not in South Africa but, rather, on the other side of the Atlantic. 

Follow the money

The third and final point is that it is abundantly clear that the different elements of the diversity-and-transformation consulting industry are remarkably good at creating work for one another. I call this network of firms “Woke Incorporated.”

According to a newsletter dated 26 November 2021, St Mary’s Waverley hired a firm called Mandate Molefi to undertake a survey on transformation and diversity.[59] This firm is led by Nene Molefi who, like Advocate Orleyn, is a prominent member of the International Women’s Federation of South Africa.[60] Mandate Molefi specialises in providing unconscious bias and diversity and inclusion strategies for private schools.[61]

Unfortunately, the website of Mandate Molefi does not inspire confidence. References to “unconscious bias”, “microaggressions” and – a new one – “micro inequities” indicate that Ms Molefi is cut from much the same cloth as Advocate Orleyn, Lovelyn Nwadeyi and the rest of Woke Incorporated.[62]



Ms King informed me that Mandate Molefi’s report indicated that the school community was deeply racially divided and unhappy. As with Lovelyn’s report, I have encouraged Ms King to publish the full Mandate Molefi deliverable so that its results and its methodological design can be properly scrutinised. In any event, the Mandate Molefi survey likely provided the impetus for all manner of Woke interventions at the school.

Unsurprisingly, Orleyn and Masoek themselves also recommend interventions by diversity consultants. According to their report:

          “It is important that conversations regarding microaggressions, racial prejudice and unchecked biases and                                               preconceived notions, are facilitated by a professional with experience in managing diversity and transformation.”[63]

Furthermore, one of the explicit recommendations of the report is that the school implement “diversity training as a formal intervention for repeated microaggressions” – and that this occur “by order of Management.”[64]

We can now see the complete hideous edifice of Woke Incorporated on full display. Ostensibly, each part of Woke Incorporated is independent from the other parts but, in reality, the various firms effectively operate as a single self-referential network: one group of consultants conducts surveys which indicate that diversity workshops are required. Another group of consultants then delivers these workshops where they transmit divisive Woke ideology to children and staff, effectively grooming them to become radical and militant anti-racism activists.

Sensational allegations of racism are amplified by tendentious broadcasters who just happen to be having lunches at expensive restaurants with the very consultants to whom they are giving extensive airtime and favourable coverage. Lawyers are then brought in to investigate the allegations. They validate and legitimise the whole farce and — in turn — end up recommending ever more diversity workshops. This whole industry revolves around bogus ideas invented by crackpot academics in America: people like Robin DiAngelo (“white fragility”), Ibram X Kendi (“anti-racism”) and Derald Wing Sue (“microaggressions”).

Ultimately, this near decade-long project of Woke indoctrination meant that, when the Black Lives Matter movement took off in June 2020, the girls at St Mary’s Waverley were highly receptive to Marxist agitation. What then transpired was a carnival of white-bashing, masquerading as “anti-racism” activism, that has left in its wake shattered careers, ruined childhoods and large piles of invoices.

                                          Nene Molefi (first from left) and Advocate Thandi Orleyn (third from left) at the Standard                                                                              Bank Top Women Awards, held on 8 November 2023. Molefi won the Top Woman in                                                                                      Professional and Support Services Award.[65] Mandate Molefi also happened to be a                                                                                   “Bronze Partner” sponsor of the event.[66]

How much has Woke Incorporated billed the various schools? It is impossible for an outsider to answer this question and – like all of the heads of schools with whom I have met – Ms King made it clear to me that St Mary's Waverley will not be disclosing this information.

Whatever the case, diversity-and-transformation consulting appears to be a profitable line of business. According to her Instagram account, in recent years Lovelyn has enjoyed a series of luxurious overseas holidays in places ranging from Egypt to the Netherlands and Switzerland.


This all marks quite a turnaround from 23 August 2019, when Lovelyn uploaded a video onto her Facebook page in which she told her friends that she had recently been down to her last R 500 and was struggling to meet her monthly payments and obligations. I suspect that parents across the country – both black and white – would prefer that their school fees be spent on attracting and retaining high-quality teachers rather than on pampering richly-rewarded, self-glorifying consultants who are doing all they can to drive those teachers out of the profession.

Indeed, it is worth sparing a thought for the countless teachers who have been fired or hounded out of schools across South Africa in highly dubious or grossly unfair circumstances over the past three years. Many of these people have been left unemployed and unemployable; struggling to pay their mortgage or purchase their parents’ cancer medication or keep their children in school without the staff rebate which they lost when their employment was terminated. Some of these people have suffered nervous breakdowns or have required suicide prevention counselling.

I can only imagine what they must think when they see Lovelyn Nwadeyi flitting around the globe, especially when she declares to her “younger self” that “[she] deserves every cent [she] chooses to spend on [herself].”


How to liberate St Mary’s Waverley

The Orleyn-Masoek Report demonstrates three important points.

Firstly, the Report provides yet another insight into just how pervasive Woke ideology now is in our schools. Numerous articles on St Mary’s DSG (Pretoria)St Stithians Girls CollegeRoedeanSt John’s College and now St Mary’s Waverley all demonstrate that there is nothing less than a full-scale ideological war being waged against independent and elite government-run schools in South Africa, with the main protagonists often being alumni of the Fallist revolutions which have swept our universities over the past eight years.

Secondly, the Report indicates that existing school governance structures are inadequate to repel this assault. In almost every instance, governing councils have either not understood what Critical Race Theory is and how it poisons a school environment, or they have lacked the courage and the skill to do anything to stop it.

Finally, the Report demonstrates that the lawyers who are brought in to investigate and to mediate matters are often deeply complicit in enabling and legitimising the Woke takeover of our schools.

How do we counter this? 

In my opinion, the only way forward is for the school to decisively reject the ideological foundations upon which Woke activism is based. The school must clearly and publicly reject Critical Race Theory along with its various sub-plots and manifestations: “microaggressions”, “cultural appropriation”, “unconscious bias”, “decolonisation” and the like. It should explicitly disavow concepts such as “white privilege”, “white fragility” and “white tears”. It should make clear that the school believes that sex is a biological fact and not a social construct and that it is not in any way persuaded by the tenets of Gender Ideology.  

Once this battle is won, it should be relatively easy to reform the school’s policies and affirm its classical liberal, English, Christian heritage. St Mary’s Waverley should adopt policies which are identity-blind and pro-poor. By this, I mean that the school should adopt colour-blind admissions, scholarships, hiring and procurement policies whilst making every reasonable provision for meaningful opportunities and benefits to be extended to genuinely disadvantaged South Africans of any racial group. In addition to scholarships, this could include internships, teacher training opportunities, community service and other initiatives. The school should unambiguously discontinue efforts to “decolonise” the curriculum, terminate the involvement of diversity and transformation consultants, disestablish any committees or positions focused on “diversity and transformation” and strongly discourage the establishment of identity-based groups such as the Parents of Black Girls Forum.

Finally, the school should publicly withdraw the Orleyn-Masoek Report and make clear that never again will any member of its community be disciplined for committing a “micro-aggression”. The school should adopt a zero-tolerance approach to racism, whilst making it clear that racism means bullying and discrimination on the basis of race, rather than the more open-ended and subjective definition ascribed to it by Woke ideology.

In short, St Mary’s Waverley should be thoroughly depoliticised and should revert to focusing on its core mission: achieving academic excellence, maintaining high standards of discipline and offering a stimulating range of sporting and cultural activities. The authority of teachers must be reestablished in the classroom and a degree of respect and reverence must be restored to the profession. Teachers should be left to teach whilst children should focus on learning, playing and making genuine friendships with one another.

None of these changes will cost anything and they should not take long to implement. But it will take leadership at a board level. It will also require some courage and skill – nothing like the sort of courage and skill exhibited by Mrs Pitt and her colleagues when St Mary’s Waverley defied the Apartheid regime (as well as the “liberation parties”) in the 1970s and 1980s – but it will require significantly more courage and skill than that which has been on display in recent times.

And St Mary’s Waverley is a school that is worth fighting for. On my recent visit I was given a brief tour of the school’s grounds. There is absolutely no doubt that in every respect (other than being a victim of the Woke pandemic) St Mary’s Waverley is a magnificent and very well-run school. I have recently spoken to four sets of parents (of all types of racial backgrounds) who have told me that their daughters are, in fact, happy and wish to remain at the school, and so it is possible that the Woke wave of June 2020 may already be receding.

Moreover, leaving St Mary’s Waverley to escape Wokeness is not a viable option. I am afraid that the situation at virtually every other English-language girls’ school in South Africa is much the same. Nor is emigrating a solution, for Wokeness across the English-speaking world – whether it be California or Canada or the United Kingdom – is probably even worse than it is here. You can run but – at some point – it will be necessary to dig a trench and fight to reclaim the institution in which you are currently based. 

So: put the Voortrekker plaque back on the wall. Shut down the diversity grift. Invite Helen Zille to give a talk – perhaps on freedom of speech? Stop believing the propaganda of the self-declared enemies of Western civilisation. Be unashamedly proud of the magnificent institutional inheritance which you are so privileged to enjoy and to look after for the next generation. For if St Mary’s Waverley can only find the courage and the skill necessary to become an explicitly anti-Woke institution, then the best teachers will quickly come flooding in from every direction and the school will soon rise to new heights.

Richard's substack can be found at


[1] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 20.

[2] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 68.10.

[3] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 22.

[4] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 23.

[5] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 25.

[6] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 27.

[7] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 28 to 31.

[8] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 29.

[9] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 33.




[13] Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev Why Doesn’t Diversity Training Work? Accessed at:

[14] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 97.6.

[15] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 24.

[16] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 26.

[17] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 97.7.

[18] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 67.7.

[19] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 67.9.



[22] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 67.10.

[23] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 67.12.


[25] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 7.

[26] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 67.16.

[27] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 67.16.

[28] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 67.3.


[30] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 19.


[32] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 67.2

[33] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 67.4


[35] Helen Zille, Stay Woke Go Broke at page 111.










[45] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 59.3.

[46] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 73.2.

[47] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 9.

[48] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 10.

[49] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 11.

[50] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 76.5.

[51] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 70.16.


[53] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 99.

[54] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 61.






[60] and



[63] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 90.1.

[64] The Orleyn-Masoek Report at paragraph 97.1.




© South African Institute of Race Relations | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions