I am an active member of social media.
Twitter, I am there.
Facebook, I am there.
Instagram, you will surely find me.
I have ranked them according to my prominence on them. Or, if you like, how active I am on them. The position I am going to take is informed by scenes I have seen on the four abovementioned social media platforms during the #FeesMustFall protests.
I assume a position of being a bystander at first. A commentator secondly and a hapless member of a student body, thirdly. Do bear with me as I assume these positions. The latter of course, should not paper over my care and concern. Rather, as you will learn below, it should shed some light on my current standing as a member of an institution so far removed from realities of South Africa that it renders me useless at best.
You will learn, as I will assume a position hereunder, that perhaps the most daunting task I face is that I have to be a bystander in the land of my birth, showing solidarity by a click of a button rather than offering a body on the line. The guilt, however, should not influence anyone else. In fact, what I wish, is that my guilt shows my current position. Hands behind back and tail between legs. It is a position I have to assume, given the current context.
However, what allows me to continue is that I can say I am one of the oppressed black child. Not to give me applause, not at all, but to recognise that I, in the space I find myself in can relate with you. Of course I am one with the black child, for my skin colour does not allow me the privilege of isolation as I form part of the black slums, who will never take their seats at the table of elites, simply based on the premise of skin colour because our right to education can only be dictated to us by the very same people who want to keep it from us. It does not grant me freedom to assume an imperious position at the expense of my fellow brother. My fellow sister.
I rather want to, in so far as I can, encourage you, my brother and sister to continue the fight, for you know that in my paralysis, I urge you on from the side-lines – the hapless members of a student body. You and I both know this is said with more conviction than it is said with hope. We are bound by race, me and you, mntomnyama simply because we only have each other to lay with in the scorching sun of Africa’s smile, which soon becomes a frown at the prospect of the fact that her very own children cannot enjoy the fruits of her happy day.
We bear testament to institutions of higher learning that do not want us. That do not need us, yet, our everlasting endurance, entrenched in us by the pain of our mothers and fathers leads us down to the Calvary in the hope of anything better than bread crumbs, for both you and I, for I cannot continue if you do not. The converse is true. Our mothers and fathers of course, bear the urine and vomit that these institutions vomit on us and by extension them. Yet, because we have been taught to be strong, we take it on the chin, papering over any hurt we might feel. The hatred, however, of black people, remains firm. Unflinching in the face of opponent. In the face of recognition.
I am invited to weep every time I am tempted to click that button in solidarity. We have been forsaken and the shadow of light seems to be eluding us, second by second, minute by minute. I am inclined to curse out, yet, I still feel that I can offer more in humility than I can in crude terms to get my point across and would love for the reader to allow me such a platform. I cannot seem to incite the very same utterances in an attempt to bury them six feet under. I would rather be found wanting at the altar of grace than at the sermon of demise.
I have been in school for the better part of my life. In fact, I have been in school since I can remember being able to drawn the sun at corner of a page. The stick man in brown crayon. Ditto the grass all across the bottom of the page. It is at such instances where I have learnt that I have been treated as a guest, rather than a host at the table. I have, together with you, mntomnyama been seen as a fraud in elevated company. One whose knowledge cannot be seen as more than just a PR exercise of being included or accommodated.
The scenes at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), University of Limpopo (UL), Durban University of Technology (DUT), University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN) et cetera, for which this inch is aimed for allows me to weep alone. To talk in mass, but to weep alone. I have, together with a couple of people discoursed about events at such campuses and have found that indeed, inde lendlela. The education that we seek, seen by my white counterparts, who cannot recognise my being, is today a privilege for them and tomorrow a right for them, depending on the mood, or who knows what. Wait, it all depends on when I decide to start fighting for it [education] simply because the bearers of the past (read their grandfathers) denied mine.
The black on black inflicting of crime, clearly visible in Mbongeni Ngema’s Sarafina! leaves a lot to be desired. Indeed, Ngema plays this role in the context of Apartheid South Africa. Sending off dogs on students in this early 1990s film. Mirror the film with current day South Africa (read students) and you will find that we have not moved an inch. In fact, we have stagnated.
I am often long. Sometimes redundant. But I ask, since you afforded me your attention up until this point, that you continue to do so.
The South African Police Service (SAPS), part time protection unit, full time extension of violence instigators have done themselves no favours in so far as they have handled themselves. The ruling party, co rulers of municipalities, full time rulers of the country have not minced their words, no one more so that State Security Minister David Mahlobo. Ditto the woman at the #FeesCommission on Monday 04 October who requested that the President deploy the army to universities. This, for me, raises a few sore thumbs. For starts, an army is tantamount to saying we are at war. We are not. Secondly, students deserve to go to war over a basic right, enshrined in our Constitution. The reader, [for your own benefit] can infer at h/her own behest.
I shall, at this point reach my crescendo, as I weep at the deafening silence of leaders and those who parade themselves as though leaders. I say, I am one with Chumani Mtshixa. I am one with Masixole Mlandu, who are deemed barbaric because they seek to claim what is rightfully theirs. I am permitted to weep for our parents, who, for the better part of their lives want us, their children to be better off.
Nkosi Sikelela iAfrika,
Maluphakanyis’ uPhondo Lwayo