Pyrrhic victory

A friend and colleague who is a full professor at a very good university in South Africa posted this as a status update this morning:

‘Pyrrhic Victory. Time to google that concept if you have forgotten it.’

The chemist in me has a fair intuition of what is implied, but I googled it anyway.

‘A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way. However, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit.’

Whatever will come of the ongoing protest action in higher education – we are here.

If you are still not getting the picture – think of the victory of the war veterans in Zimbabwe. They gained the land but at what cost?

As talented academics of all levels and all races across the country prepare cvs and make job applications elsewhere, the cost is already too high. As a whole generation of graduates may have to spend another year at university who will staff our schools and hospitals? What about those who are due to enter next year? What is the cost to the country? What is the cost to the students and their families?

The shells of the great learning institutions of our country are already being hollowed out. Whoever ultimately claims victory there will be nothing worth celebrating.

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