South African Describes Oxford Uni As “Disneyland for Nerds”, But Not Always As Welcoming

Award-winning South African poet Athol Williams has described the prestigious University of Oxford as “Disneyland for Nerds”… although he admits the environment was not always that welcoming.

In a filmed interview with Africa Oxford Initiative, the poet says of his experience studying MPhil in Politics (Political Theory) at Oxford – for which he received a distinction – that “literally everything you can dream of as a Super Nerd is here at Oxford – love it!”

Oxford University loved his description and posted it on their Facebook page. Williams, who has SIX degrees from top universities around the world, grew up in Mitchell’s Plain in South Africa during apartheid… and always dreamt of going to Oxford.

The 47-year-old attributes his success to making the decision to succeed. He says once you make that decision, you follow up on it.

In the full interview (see bottom of page) Williams admitted there were times at Oxford when he felt like he didn’t belong in an environment that is not very welcoming, he says, to Africans, black people or minorities. There were times he felt he was being specifically asked to show his student card to prove he was a student – but that even though those type of incidents got him down, and are reflected in some of his poetry, he would always “dust myself off” and not allow those things to cause him to fail… because he was at Oxford with a purpose, and nothing was going to stand in his way of succeeding.

Watch SA Poet Athol Williams describes Oxford University as ‘Disneyland for Nerds’

Athol Williams is an award-winning South African poet. He has six degrees from top universities around the world – one of these is an MPhil in Politics (Political Theory) with distinction from the University of Oxford.He grew up in a township in South Africa during apartheid, and had always dreamt of studying in Oxford. Watch Africa Oxford Initiative's full interview with Athol here, and find out why he thinks Oxford is Disneyland for nerds!:

Posted by University of Oxford on Thursday, September 21, 2017

Of growing up during apartheid rule, Williams said the system was designed to make him a labourer with rudimentary maths and physics taught… but that he grasped the importance of education early on, and instead of looking at the ‘mirror’ the apartheid system held in front of him showing how small he was, he looked in his own mirror where he was a giant.

Writing on Facebook yesterday, Williams said: “Glad to see the university enjoying my description of Oxford as ‘Disneyland for nerds’.”

Athol is currently in South Africa, inspiring young school learners with his Read to Rise programme:

The Full Oxford Interview with Athol Williams