The Revolution will not be televised. It's Tweeted!
Paradigm-shifting news: A student movement is underway in South Africa, which will – if entirely successful in its demands and execution – fundamentally alter the very fabric of post-Apartheid South Africa’s education system, the way in which leaders are chosen, and ensuring the promises of those chosen to govern are upheld with no substitutions.
In the address to the 1993 Cosatu Congress, Nelson Mandela said: “If the ANC does to you what the Apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the Apartheid government.” During the pre- and post-Apartheid period, the oppressed had the premise of wanting to advance the fundamental human rights which Apartheid had robbed previous generations of They wanted a government which would be democratic, entirely transparent to its people, and accountable. They simply wanted better lives, and that the future generations – like the ones participating in this 2015 student movement, would have the right to quality education and health.
Every year there are complaints made about tuition fees, by various students at tertiary institutes in South Africa, like: Walter Sisulu University, Rhodes University, and University of Fort Here. Previously garnering relatively no national awareness, and initiating hardly any changes, the current student movement in South Africa has quickly spiraled thanks to social media. Twitter began trending #FeesMustFall after the tuition fees of universities like University of Cape Town,Witwatersrand, and eventually University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, University of Western Cape, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and more, for the upcoming year were announced and compared to previous years. The percentage to which tuition fees have risen spanning 20+ years has left people reeling – especially when its been estimated by IOL, that by 2033 it would cost approximately R1.2mil to get a degree. Soon after the shock began, the indignacy, anger and frustration began. South Africa’s population have different realities, and for the majority – regardless of race – the existing fees are not feasible, and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme has some prerequisites which do not realistically factor in so many socioeconomic aspects of the populus.
So far what has happened in South Africa since Apartheid was abolished, is a seating of quite a few struggle heroes refusing to acknowledge the history that is happening on their doorsteps that echoes a fight they once fought and bled for. What is happening is governing body’s which are choked by unyielding archaic protocols. What is happening is masses of unarmed students being forcibly removed and/or dispersed from areas where they are making their stand, by police forces using brutal force, stun grenades, teargas and more. Quite a few students have been dehumanized, arrested, sexually assaulted, suffered concussions, asthma attacks, head-on collisions with angry motorists driving through crowds etc. *Twitter folk have asked for social workers, lawyers, psychiatrists etc. to help. Some of the students have been scarred, and know it, and have asked for aid during this trying time.
SA politician Mmusi Maimane says that Wits students should blame high university fees on Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Despite the fact that South African political party’s campaign promises, governing ineffectiveness and leadership are intrinsic factors in the issue at hand, the students of this movement have made it clear that they will NOT tolerate party’s like the DA using this movement as a platform to further their own interests. So resolute are they in this thinking that politician Mmusi Maimane was told, in no uncertain terms, to vacate the area occupied by UCT students and #FeesMustFall supporters, where he came to “show support and solidarity”.
Race, sexual preference, economic and gender issues, and even mortality rates have popped up too, with celebrities, students, and lecturers sometimes voicing out bigoted or racist comments regarding the movement. It’s really unsettling to have the gatekeepers of knowledge to think and actually vocalize their disdain – especially for their own students and their socioeconomic status’s. Students have maintained the truth of their movement and called out and form of PR stunts – including rapper AKA’s controversial twitter statements to the students cum fan base.
#FeesMustFall movement reclaims pieces lost with ever past compromise we have had to make where our conformity was coerced and our submission solicited. After a Twitter outcry for support, people have donated food, water and juice, fruit, places to rest, data when the universities shut down the WiFi so students wouldn’t tweet out more, as well as time offered to students who need/want tutors to study.
The movement has had support pouring in from Students across the world too, because even First World Nation occupants know that education – even Tertiary education – should not be a privilege. Stand-up Comedian Rob Van Vuuren tweeted “Ubuntu is not an ad campaign” and I swooned.
I spent some time on the 21st October 2015 at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University campus capturing the words and the spirit of this branch of the movement, and interviewing some of the students who are invested in this movements outcome.
Follow the movement on any social media platform using the hashtags #UCTFeesMustFall #NationalShutDown #NMMUFeesMustFall #NationalShutDown #UKZNFeesMustFall #StelliesFeesMustFall