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Rama Naidu: #FeesMustFall is a fight for social justice

January 19, 2017

“On judgement day, God will ask me what I did when I saw injustice in the world.” These were the words of student leader and politics major at Wits University Azra Karim, who was featured in the film People Versus the Rainbow Nation about the #FeesMustFall campaign. Karim is privileged but decided the movement had to be a battle for ALL students and citizens of South Africa who had any semblance of a social conscience.

About four months ago, I had the privilege of watching the film by Lebogang Rasethaba. Up to this time, I found myself unconsciously buying into the branded story of undisciplined and ungrateful students who terrorised other students and destroyed campus property. I had not fully heard the story of the students.

The film gave me a first-hand account of the other story that has not been told. The story of dreams, hardships and the possibility of a better life in a country that promised this to the young generation. How many of us have taken the time to find out the other story of this campaign with the intention of truly understanding what it is all about?

The uncomfortable truth is that we should have all been marching in the streets with the students because this is a battle about inequality and social injustice. It also became a battle between black despair at the lack of change and white complacency about their contribution to this unfolding story of glaring social injustice, that was spawned in the era of apartheid. More than this, the battle is about human dignity and the right of all of us to dream and have the chance of a better life. As one of the students, Richard Moremi said in the film: “Success for a white kid is not a great victory. Success for a white kid is destiny.”

There is a bigger cause that we as South Africans have to be aware of and more than this, have the moral courage to stand up as a nation across all the things that have kept us divided up until now. If we want to talk about social cohesion, combatting racism, addressing the inequalities, humiliation and indignity of the past, then let our actions speak louder than words. This is how we will change this country, not through billboards proclaiming that we are a rainbow nation.

This campaign has to touch something inside each of us. When we think of the covenant that Mandela spoke of during his inaugural speech in Pretoria, 1994. He said:

“We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”

I have chosen to feel this deep within me and have made it my quest to awaken this covenant in every person that I meet. It is time to step up the line and know that #FeesMustFall is a fight for social justice and that there are many other battles before us.  Beyond the feisty words, what is your commitment to writing a new story for all South Africans? And more importantly, what is your contribution to this story?

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2 Comments

  1. Denver
    January 19, 2017 - 2:59 pm

    The problem with articles like these is that they are full of platitudes and virtue signaling. All they do is speak about what the problems and how we need to stand together etc etc etc.

    It’s time for the media and government to stop with the feelings nonsense and start to come up with actual solutions as to how to move forward with these issues. Reiterating the same old rhetoric is not going to solve anything. All it is doing is dividing people and pitting race against race.

    This article speaks about letting our actions speak louder than words but fails to mention what those actions ought to be. Saying that we need to stand with students and march in the streets with them is not going to practically solve these issues.

    Is this issue on government’s shoulders or should society at large also contribute to making education free?

    Maybe the first thing to do is to make paying taxes easier and maybe lower so that more than 3% or four population pays into the country. This way more money can be collected for different things. Then work out a system that allows allocation of funds into the education sector. If it is not possible to get free education then maybe lower prices or sponsored education.

    Get more companies involved so that if they could sponsor different fields of education by paying for students to get a degree and in return the student works for them for x number of years.

    Sponsored education could also mean graduates do a community service once they graduate.

    Hold students accountable for their studies and push them to complete in the minimum amount of years.

    I am sure if we really tried there could be a mutually beneficial solution but if all we do is virtue signal and write nice feel good pieces with no real solutions then this issue isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

    Reply
  2. Azra Karim
    January 27, 2017 - 1:28 am

    Wow. It’s the first time I’ve seen this article. Truly touched. Indeed it is time for all of us to step up

    Reply

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