You must have stayed up-to-date with the collective of #FeesMustFall protests that happened all over the country. #FeesMustFall addresses an incredible challenge faced by many young South Africans of not being able to afford university education. I find it heartbreaking because South Africa’s educational system is a gauntlet if you’re not in a good school. Think about it with me. You have to deal with a bad learning environment, apathetic and tired teachers and a difficult home situation on top of trying to get an average high enough to get you into university. Then you’re one of the exceptional learners and you make it. You think that you have a way out of your situation by getting a degree but then fees set you back and your proven hard work record is for nothing. You might even rack up debt while trying to push your way into the system. Let’s not forget the times that your only “shower” is by using the basins at university because there is no water at home or that you’re studying on an empty stomach or that you’re supporting your entire family on whatever grant money you might have been lucky enough to receive.
The University of Witwatersrand sparked the initial protests against the increase in university fees on October 12th. The protests reached their summit at the Union Buildings on October 23rd with more than 18000 students from all over Gauteng demanding free education. This Heard and Seen post focuses on the Union Buildings march.
“Race here doesn’t matter!”
“I’m not worried. We’re too many. They won’t be able to kill us all.”
“No violence! No violence! No violence!”
“What are they burning?”
“The porta-potties provided for the dignity of the students.”
“The TUT students barged in and told us to move out of the way.”
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
“Are you safe?”
“They’re trying to pull down the Paul Kruger statue.”
“Happy New Year!”
“I’ve never seen you run so fast.”
“They laugh at the stun grenades. We need to go before they start using tear gas to chase them away.”