YOOOOOHHHHHH you guyyyyysssss she deeeeedn’tttttt……HAIIIIIII NOOOOOOOO……they gonna get heeeeeeerrrrr. No my dear friends, they will not get me. Student protesters will not get me. Why? Because, despite what the media has told you or what your cousin in first year Bcom has told you…..it isn’t like June 16, 1976. And also because I’m one of them, and you should be too. In my third year at the UKZN Westville campus I’ve experienced the more passive and peaceful strikes to the more extreme and violent ones. Before I get more into it and we actually get a bit serious, let’s chat about some of the students I’ve noticed during the strikes. (PS- I mention #feesmustfall the most as this was the movement I was most involved in and can speak for, however these apply to most student protests)
9 types of students during #FEESMUSTFALL
- The Supporter- Ok. These are the people that actually understand the cause and are fighting for their right and a better life for themselves, their fellow students and the future students of South Africa. They know when the strikes are happening, the reason for the strike and who’s in charge. If you’re friends with them, you’ll always know the 411.
- The Spectating Supporter- These guys halfheartedly support the cause. They don’t always know why students are protesting but still show their support in some way….be it joining in an actual strike or sharing a page on Facebook talking about the students’ plight. They’re not the worst from the lot, but it doesn’t really affect their lives if the students win or not. In most cases, they were either walking to a lecture venue and decided to join the strike in support or to get to their car/taxi to get home without looking suspicious. How to spot them? They NEVER know any of the songs and only say ”Awethu” when they hear someone say ”Amandla” and scream when everyone else screams.
- The Choir- MY FAVES! And honestly, a good strike is never complete without them. They usually spread out like little speakers so everyone in the strike can hear which track is on. They usually initiate the songs and GIRL you better watch yourself if you think you gonna sing louder than them. Nah boo, you sit back down and just say ”Cha… cha cha” when you need to.
- The Opportunist- AKA the Milker. Because they’re about to MILK the hell out of this situation. ”OMG, Sir! I couldn’t do it. We went to the library but they were striking” ”I wasn’t at campus when you gave us that work…my parents were scared they’re gonna strike so I didn’t come” ”Good day, the first year students and I have come to the decision that it would be unfair for us to write our Psych 101 test on Friday due to the emotional trauma we had experienced during the strikes last week Tuesday”. In all honesty, this is still better than that student complaining about missing out on campus and work because of the strikes.
- That Guy Ayyyy– Ayyyyyy that guuuuyyyyyyyyy……… the skinny guy who thinks the strikers are gonna come beat him up. He just sent a message on the group chat ”Ekse bra, I’m vyin posy. They vyin shambees. Coming with a shambock for my cab and everything bra.” PLEASE BRA, go home. We don’t want your cab.
- The Drama Queen- This
bitchgirl wasn’t even there. She doesn’t even go to this campus. She came once with her BF to Green bean and now she thinks she belongs. She’s been receiving Whatsapp broadcasts and pictures about the strike and forwarding them to her family chat and narrating the entire thing as if she was there and complaining about her chest pain after she was tear gassed.
- The Selfish One who pisses me off– This one……this one makes my blood boil. This one has a big mouth leaving (usually) racist and ignorant comments on the UKZN Facebook page. I really don’t want to say much because they TRULY piss me off. They are the ones who usually have always had life served on a silver platter. They don’t feel for those suffering or see the struggle students go through to make a better life for themselves and their families. Now, this doesn’t mean that all students who have a comfortable life have this mentality, majority of the students (from various racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds) support student protests but you always MUST have that one dickhead who thinks he’s the shit. Open your eyes, open your heart.
- The Hunter– In the midst of making history, brotherhood, Ubuntu…..there’s comrade Sizwe making eyes and ”mistakenly” bumping againt sisi Thando. Alllllways that one guy. But it’s okay, Thando don’t mind.
There are so many things I could say about student protests. I’ve debated whether or not I should make this blog post as it’s quite controversial and sensitive to many people. But perhaps it may enlighten some of you? I’ve personally been a part of several peaceful student strikes, mostly during the most active era of the #FEESMUSTFALL movement (the latter part of 2015, may it live long!) and here are some answers to questions you don’t really care about:
- Are the strikes violent? No, they’re rather fun actually. We walk around campus and sing songs hoping to send a message and create awareness.
- Why do we see violence then? 1) The police turn violent for no reason on innocent students, 2) The students are not being heard 3) It’s unnecessary, wrong and some students create a bad impression on all student protesters.
- So you support the strikes…that means you support the burning of books and buildings? HELL NO. And MOST strikers do not condone this behaviour either. It is totally unnecessary and sad to see education being disrespected in such a way. We cannot answer for the actions of others, we do not know their rationale.
As I said….I could say so much more about my feelings regarding the plight of young students across South Africa. But I fail to coherently transfer my thoughts and have chosen to leave you with a message I wrote at the beginning of this year.
As we prepare to commence with our next year of studying, let’s not forget those who won’t be joining us. Some of us can comfortably pay our way through university so the Fees Must Fall campaign may seem like an inconvenience due to postponed exam dates and inconsistency overall. We view it this way because as I said, we’re comfortable.
Many students will not be returning and many school students will not apply or even consider university because they’ve lost hope that it’s a possibility for them.
I know people say the under privileged can just get a job to pay it off or a bursary, but it’s really not that easy. Some have done it successfully but not everyone’s situation is the same nor are they granted equal opportunities.
I know people say we can’t call on the race card because Apartheid ended years ago, but it was our youth’s grandparents that were stripped of potential that led to a cycle of poverty.
I know the violence and aggression of some students have not been pleasant but the unnecessary police brutality hasn’t been that pretty either.
I stand with my fellow students and I trust that they have not given up and will continue to fight for a better quality of life. If not for us, then for the Grade 4 child who thinks that he/she could never be a doctor and the 16 year old girl/boy that gave up their education to care for their family- Shahnaaz Naby
As always, thank you so so much for chatting with me and please remember to hit that subscribe/follow button to keep up with all of my stuff! Also check out my social media so we can be friends IG: @shahnaaznaby. Until next time xxx