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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.

 

Audio
(Youtube)

7 Gengetone Acts You Need to Check Out

The streets speak gengetone: Kenya's gengetone sound is reverberating across East Africa and the world, get to know its main purveyors.

Sailors' "Wamlambez!"Wamlambez!" which roughly translates to "those who lick," is the cry the reverberated round the world, pushing the gengetone sound to the global stage. The response "wamnyonyez" roughly translates to "those who suck" and that should tell you all you need to know about the genre.

Known for its lewd lyrics and repetitive (often call and response) hooks, gengetone makes no apologies for belonging to the streets. First of all, most artists that create gengetone are grouped into bands with a few outliers like Zzero Sufuri riding solo. The songs themselves often feature a multiplicity of voices with screams and crowds coming through as ad libs, adding to this idea that this is definitely "outside" music.

Listening to Odi wa Muranga play with his vocal on the track "Thao" it's easy to think that this is the first, but gengetone fits snuggly in a history of sheng rap based on the kapuka style beat. Kapuka is onomatopoeically named, the beats have that repetitive drum-hat-drum skip that sounds like pu-ka-pu-ka-pu. Artists like Nonini were asking women to come over using this riff long before Ochungulo family told them to stay home if they aren't willing to give it up.

Here's seven gengetone groups worth listening to.

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