News

Notes From South Africa's #NationalShutDown

What started as a student-led protest last Wednesday at Wits University in Johannesburg becomes a nationwide shutdown today in South Africa.

A protestor at Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday (Photo: David East)


On Wednesday of last week, students at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg began protesting in response to a proposed 10.5 percent hike in tuition fees. On Monday, the protests spread to other universities around South Africa, including the University of Cape Town. That night, the South African Student Congress (Sasco) called for “a nationwide mass action against fee increments until their demands are met” to take place on Wednesday.

Today, the #FeesMustFall demonstrations became a #NationalShutDown in South Africa. In Cape Town, students took the protests to Parliament.

Andrei Damane, a jazz musician and political science student at UCT, was at the protests in Cape Town Wednesday afternoon to protest the crushing burden of the fee increases.

“I felt as if I didn’t at least voice myself I’d be letting people down and myself as well,” he tells Okayafrica in a phone interview.

Damane was in the group of protesters who made it peacefully onto the parliament grounds before being disbursed with police stun grenades.

Andrei Damane's photo of the protestor whose skin was peeling off in Cape Town on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Andrei Damane) 

“We entered with our arms raised to show we weren’t violent,” says Damane. After they were dispersed, he joined a group trying to exit the grounds but was stopped at the gate which had been closed to prevent more protesters from entering. The group of roughly 300, he says, sat nonviolently at the gates waiting to be allowed out.

They were attacked anyways with police launching stun grenades directly into the crowd. The closest was “two arms length away from me”, says Damane, “as if someone next to me was getting shot.”

As the shots were fired, the gates were opened causing a stampede of protesters trying to exit the parliament grounds. It was immediately after that when Damane snapped the picture of the protestor whose skin had been peeling off that, as of now, has been shared a thousand times on Twitter.

“I don’t know whether the injury is related to the stun grenade or from being tripped” says Damane. As of 6:30 pm Cape Town time, Damane had left the protest but he is getting updates from friends on Whatsaap.

Here are some more reactions from South Africa's #NationalShutdown today on social media.

 

popular
Photo still via TIFF.

Watch the Striking Trailer for 'Farming'—Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Directorial Debut

This is a must-watch.

The trailer for Farming, Nigerian-British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's directorial debut, is here.

"Between the 1960s and the 1980s, thousands of Nigerian children were farmed out to white working class families in the UK," the trailer begins. "This is the true story of just one of them."

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Image by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

#IStandWithIlhan: Supporters Rally Behind Ilhan Omar Following Racist 'Send Her Back' Chant

"I am here where I belong, at the people's house, and you're just going to have to deal,"—Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

Social media continues to rally behind Representative Ilhan Omar, following a series of racist remarks targeted at her and several other congresswoman of color by President Donald Trump.

The president doubled down on his racist rhetoric during a re-election rally in North Carolina on Wednesday, attendees began chanting "send her back," referring to Omar—echoing anti-imigrant remarks that the president tweeted last week, in which he wrote that four congresswomen of color: Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib should "go back" to where they came from.

This is far from the first time that Omar has been on the receiving end of racist and Islamophobic attacks and referred to as un-American on account of her Somali heritage.

READ: Op-Ed: In Defense of the Black Boogeyman

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Sir Elvis in "Loving Man" (Youtube)

6 African Country Musicians You Should Check Out

Featuring Sir Elvis, Jess Sah Bi & Peter One, Emma Ogosi and more.

With Lil Nas X's EP going straight to number on the American charts, it seems like country music revival is taking over 2019 and beyond, thanks to its unlikely fusion with trap music. It only makes sense that black people are reclaiming the genre, as country was actually partly created by black American artists and heavily influenced by gospel music.

On top of that, plenty of lesser known black artists and bands are making country, or country-infused, music. This is especially the case in Africa, where the genre has been around for a few decades and an increasing number of musicians are gaining momentum. By gaining popularity in Africa, country is coming back to its roots, as country guitar and the way of playing it was originally inspired by the banjo— an instrument that African slaves brought with them to America.

Country music has a strong appeal across the African continent for several reasons: the similarity with many African instruments and the recurring lyrics and themes about love, heartbreak and "the land." At the heart of it, country music has an appeal to working class people all over the world who feel let down by the people that were supposed to help them.

Country music is played regularly on the radio in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi but yet, the artists featured are overwhelmingly white and American. African country singers do not get the respect they deserve or are seen as anomalies. With the growing number of them making country music, here is a list of the ones you need to listen to right now.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.