Friday, October 23, 2015 will be remembered as the day the #FeesMustFall movement reached a turning point.
President Jacob Zuma announced that there would be no fee increase for the 2016 academic year. The generation that was thought to be apathetic and directionless started a national movement that forced a presidential and institutional rethink of South Africa’s approach to education.
Flex. We all took pictures.
Today, there have been differing views of where the movement should go next. We examine three moments during the #FeesMustFall movement that point to what the vibrant, critical and unified youth voice should take on next.
That moment when white protesters shielded black protesters from cops because police would not shoot or use excessive force against white people.
— Rhodes Must Fall (@RhodesMustFall) October 20, 2015
Is your white privilege no longer problematic if you use your white privilege for a good cause? No. It’s still not cool. I can’t decide if the stupefying irony of white protesters wielding their white privilege to protest against a function of systemic, institutional privilege is funny, enlightening or infuriating. Worse, it’s horrifying to think that the police responded as expected to the “shield of white goodwill.”
Simply: white bodies are considered more valuable than black bodies by the South African police force. It is emblematic of a larger racial cancer that sees black people structurally dehumanised by institutions of the state on a daily basis. #WhitePrivilegeMustFall, guys.
— Sadie Torquato (@SadieWiggles) October 27, 2015
That meme. Funny? No? Admit it. It’s okay, half the time we joke in offensive ways to women that we swear are not meant to be sexist.
But it’s at that moment, right there, when you giggled, that we realise that we need #PatriarchyMustFall more than most of us think. Have you ever used the term “man up” to insinuate strength or “you throw like a girl” to suggest weakness? Both are patriarchal, sexist remarks. Both are uncool. Sexism is defined as behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. This meme furthers a sexist stereotype by suggesting that Shaeera and Nompendulo are thinking about hair even when they were leading a protest that has changed a generation.
Pontsho Pilane, the Daily Vox journalist who delivered by far the best coverage of #FeesMustFall movement, wrote in the City Press newspaper recently that there were instances of sexism during the movement. During a meeting at Solomon Mahlangu House (formerly Senate House), a group of male students refused to sit down when asked to do so by Nompendulo Mkhatshwa because they refused to take orders from a woman.
This is a tragic example of male privilege directly undermining a movement that itself seeks to respond to historical, racial and class privilege. #PatriarchyMustFall
There will be a 0% fee increase in the 2016 academic year. Yay! But wait, what?
There was a sense of unease after President Jacob Zuma made his grand announcement. Was it enough that there would be a 0% increment? Fees had effectively frozen and had not fallen. For some students, it meant they could go home, the battle was won. While for others, it meant little and that the movement had to continue. “What about free education,” some thought. “What about ending outsourcing,” others protested.
Begging the question: was it a victory? Was a 0% fee increase enough? That debate rages on and students from the University of Johannesburg, under the banner of #UJshutdown, are continuing the fight.
#FeesMustGenuinelyFall? You tell us.
What do you think a vibrant, critical youth voice that characterised #FeesMustFall should collapse next?
Image: ©Siya Mkhasibe / Livity Africa content pool