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#FeesMustFall Reading List: 9 Important Reads on South Africa’s Student Protests

We rounded up some of the most important articles to surface since South Africa's #FeesMustFall protests emerged last October.

As we head into a second week of shutdowns at universities across South Africa, we thought we’d take a look at some of the most important articles to surface since #FeesMustFall emerged last October in response to a proposed 10.5 percent in tuition fees. Below are nine reads that offer essential insight into the student-led movement.


"Why #FeesMustFall: Cape Town students share their personal stories"

By Nwabisa Masiza, Babalwa Quma, Anam Joseph, Lucille Dyosi, Bulemko Gana

Live Mag SA, 26 October 2015

I am one of the many students who are fighting for free education. I know the struggle. I have my reasons for joining the protest, and so do the University of Cape Town students highlighted in this Live Mag article from the start of the protests.

"#FeesMustFall: Police violence has no place in peaceful protests"

By Pierre De Vos

Daily Maverick, 26 October 2015

“We live in a violent society. This is not surprising as violence was one of the main instruments through which the colonisers subjugated South Africa’s indigenous population,” writes De Vos in this reflection on the tactics used by the state in its handling of the student protests. It’s a statement that hits home to many black South Africans during apartheid, whose children are being treated in a similar manner 22 years into democracy.

"What #FeesMustFall teaches us about racism"

By Pakama Ngceni

Vanguard, 5 November 2015

Activist Pakama Ngceni discusses what the #FeesMustFall movement teaches us about racism in this insightful article for Vanguard Magazine. “Racism in this country determines who has a voice, and who is otherwise constructed as the ‘angry black rabble.’ There is always the perception that protests led by only black activists are essentially violent, and this perception dehumanises them,” writes Ngceni.

"Being a student in South Africa comes with so much frustration"

By Lizeka Maduna

The Daily Vox, 9 November 2015

Last November, The Daily Vox’s Lizeka Maduna spoke with former Durban University of Technology student, Sibongile Cele, who was financially excluded in her second year of studies. The resulting interview sheds unique insight into the motivations behind the #FeesMustFall movement and the need for change in our system. Cele’s story is the reality of thousands of young South Africans who are forced to drop out of university due to lack of funds.

"Understanding the Struggle Songs of Fees Must Fall"

By Tshireletso Mati

Media for Justice, 2 February 2016

Media for Justice’s Tshireletso Mati offers readers the history behind some of South Africa’s most famous protest songs, such as “Solomon” and “Elilizwe lo khokho bethu, elilizwe la bantu aba mnyama,” and tips on sharpening your singing and pronunciation skills. It’s a great read that may even prove helpful next time you’re part of a protest.

"About 50 UWC students with no accommodation have been squatting in res lounges"

By Onele Liwani

Live Mag SA, 3 March 2016

Tuition fees aren’t the only issue faced by South Africa’s student communities. Accommodation remains a challenge in universities across the country.

"Shaeera Kalla #FeesMustFall Interview"

By Matthew Piper

Student Investor, 25 April 2016

Former Wits SRC presidents Shaeera Kalla and Nompendulo Mkhatshwa emerged as the faces of the #FeesMustFall movement last October. In an interview with Destiny Magazine, Mkhatshwa said the #FeesMustFall movement was actually Kalla’s idea. Here, we get to know this courageous young woman.

"Here’s how we can achieve free higher education by 2019"

By Ari Sitas

The Daily Vox, 19 September 2016

In this eye-opening read, Professor Ari Sitas responds to some of the key questions about how free education can in fact be implemented by 2019.

"Free education is possible if South Africa moves beyond smoke and mirrors"

By Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Mondli Hlatswayo, Rasigan Maharajh, Zolisa Marawu.

Mail & Guardian, 21 September 2016

Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande’s nonchalant response to the call for free education has been evident since day one. This article from Mail & Guardian looks closely at Nzimande’s lack of concern towards the realisation of free education. The authors also point to the fee commission's shortcomings and accuse it of being sluggish and unfocused.

Thabang Buthelezi is a Johannesburg-based writer, communication science student and art and food enthusiasts.

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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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Photo illustration by Aaron Leaf.

Zuma Releases Commission Report, Says South Africa Can't Provide Free Higher Education

What does this mean for the #FeesMustFall movement?

South African President Jacob Zuma released the highly anticipated Heher Commission in lieu of recent #FeesMustFall student protests—which says it's not feasible to offer free higher education.

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Watch the Hazy Music Video for Burna Boy's 'Secret' Featuring Jeremih and Serani

Burna Boy drops a new music video for a fan favorite from his Grammy-nominated album 'African Giant.'

Grammy-nominated Burna Boy shares the music for the latest single "Secret," a fan favorite from his seminal album African Giant.

The track, which features American singer Jeremih and Jamaican dancehall artist Serani, is arguably one of the album's most fun and memorable tracks. The song gets a hazy music video starring the three artists in various dimly-lit, monochromatic settings. The video was directed by David Camarena.

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Listen to J Hus' New Album 'Big Conspiracy'

The artist's highly-anticipated sophomore album features Burna Boy, Koffee and more.

J Hus is back. The heavyweight British-Gambian artist returns with his highly-anticipated sophomore album Big Conspiracy.

The 13-track album features the likes of Burna Boy, who joins the artist on the upbeat track "Play Play," as well as buzzing Jamaican artist Koffee who appears on the track "Repeat," one of the album's clear standouts.

It also features a new artist by the name of iceè tgm on three tracks. Some fans have speculated that the mysterious artist is J Hus' sister. The album includes the previously released single 'Must Be,' which he dropped in November of last year.

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