#FeesMustFall is probably the most popular phrase in South Africa at the moment. After last year’s protest that resulted in the national shutdown of every university in the country, we all had the gut feeling that this would be happening again at the end of 2016. The minister of higher education called for a maximum of 8% in the fee increment for 2017, before he even finished his speech, student leaders from different universities across the country announced a shutdown. #FeesMustFall has always been a sore subject on our small little island of a campus, there’s always such a clear division between the students that are fighting for the struggle and the students that equate the shutdown to time off. The gap is shown between the students who care about another child’s struggle and those who don’t, to put it bluntly.
Last year an activist was born out of me, after attending mass meetings, marching to the union building and participating in different protest against the inaccessibility to higher education as result of financial constraints. I understand the struggle because I’ve been the struggle, I’ve lived in poverty, I’ve wondered where would my next meal come from, I’ve been forced into two gap years because I just couldn’t afford tuition.
What does that 8% increment and the protest as a whole mean to me; well for one there’s again a sense of panic with what next year may be for me. There’s also a sense of relieve though, as I’m low-key hoping for a change of date to my exams, especially since I’m genuinely struggling to study this block; no lectures mean I get to study without interruptions to attend compulsory tutorials but the activist in me also has me singing ‘Solomon’ and other struggle chants as we occupy different areas on the campus.
Image from earlier this morning, in front of the Health Science Faculty in Parktown, Johannesburg .