#FeesMustFall heralds the rise of a new black resistance: iLIVE - Times LIVE
Sat May 27 23:20:39 SAST 2017

#FeesMustFall heralds the rise of a new black resistance: iLIVE

Majola Majola | 2015-10-29 12:54:41.0
South African students protest outside the parliament precinct, File photo.
Image by: Gallo Images / Beeld / Jaco Marais

When night fell on 23 October 2015 the meaning of resistance took a completely new meaning.


That night the gravity of the new narrative championed by the #FeesMustFall movement led to the fall of the fence separating the people from the unreachable castle of the Union Buildings.

The collusion in outlooks evident through debris of live ammunition passed over to protesters by the police, showing through stones which built a fort where feet of the police force had earlier stood in their chain.

Protesters and the police centre stage, diligently refereed by the government of the people. The gardens exhibited shoe marks of brave women and men whose presence on the grounds that day was to take part in the rite of passage of the so-called born frees and inaugurate them into leadership.   


When the government decided to make the announcement that eventually gave in to student’s initial demand of zero percent fee increase, the nine day battle had already escalated into a war against the thread of exclusion from basic education level right up to the employment market.

The announcement was made possible by whatever compromise that was made by the government and the predominantly white council delegation from various institutions of higher learning. The students movement drew a battle line only the blind can miss and also made clear there’s a war that black people should dedicate themselves to from here onwards.

The movement has crystallised black people’s deep disempowerment, as it is black people who always have to resort to demonstrations before their basic demands of clean water, shelter and quality education are gradually considered.


In The Souls of Black Folk W.E.B. Dubois wrote “To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race is at the bottom of all hardships”. The religious mass protestations by black people are directly related to the construct of their access to a better life.

The disenfranchisement of black people whether skilled or “Unskilled” is driven by the fact that this economy belongs to a Western civilisation which white people are the custodians of.

Black people’s assimilation into institutions of higher learning for skills development continues leaning towards a charitable cause, and it will continue so unabated until we realise that we do not have an economy that is exclusively ours.


The movement made me aware that the current education system is an assembly line remanufacturing black people’s position of outsiders looking in.

Addressing the challenge of African Universities in the book African Renaissance: The new struggle, Prof Hebert W. Vilakazi states that “the key issues, we have to face and debate, are the economy and civilisation”.

He also states that the key to African Civilisation is deserted in the rural areas among the uncertified people. This generation has declared war against restricted access to education, as that war intensifies it will translate to the fall of the curriculum currently taught in African institutions.

This movement requires each individual to be courageous enough to do deep self introspection of how comfortable they are within the current economic system. Our collective priority should be clearing the space we need in order to rebuild this continent and to use the skills that have we have acquired through education to rebuild African civilisation.

The visions encapsulated in the National Development Plan predict that over 20 Million people will be employed in the current economy by the year 2030, yet today over 5 Million young people are unemployed regardless of how educated they are.

The deep dissatisfaction expressed by many people with the government’s announcement last Friday is telling of the awareness people have with the causes of their powerlessness. The fees Must Fall revolution has accelerated our need to see an economic system that is for Africans by Africans.


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