Many an impassioned and thought-provoking piece has been written about the recent #FeesMustFall social uprising.
This week I wanted to share with you a selection of posts about the recent #FeesMustFall protests taken from my social media feed, as well as some of my thoughts around this complex and layered issue.
Students and the youth of countries, including Apartheid South Africa, have historically been at the forefront of activism and social uprisings.
The initial media coverage and framing of the #FeesMustFall protests drew on racist depictions of black students (and Africans, if we look at early international news coverage) which served to trivialise the cause for which our students are fighting.
It has been encouraging to see figures from popular culture (political, academic, and media) begin to show their support for the #FeedMustFall protests, as well as urging fellow South Africans to support the students.
Once the media coverage began to construct universities as victims and not aggressors, it allowed the South African public to locate a major part of the problem and solution in government’s quarters. A government who has revoked much-needed education funding.
The more students and South Africans fight amongst themselves, the less able they are able to unite in fighting for a solution.
Instead of splitting the student body and South African population across racial lines (like with Apartheid’s ‘divide and conquer’ policies that included racial segregations and homelands) an emerging sense of unity and common purpose has begun to emerge.
The #FeesMustFall story becomes one of parents who fought for change and their children who were promised a better future. One road to a hopeful future was believed to be through a better education.
It has become a human interest story that we can all relate to – regardless of the colour of our skins.
However, this does not mean that other relevant and pressing concerns do not intersect with the fee concerns (including: race, legacy, class, privilege, and the function of police).
It would be unfortunate if these intersecting concerns would be fought at the same time, as this poses a risk to the solidarity of protestors (present in person and in spirit).
Many governments understand that education is one key to success – not only of individual citizens but the entire countries their citizens call home.
Many governments know this and act accordingly when they invest in their citizens and enable free access education.
The South African student population has recognized their needs and their right to achieve greatness.
I salute them.