6 Moments That Prove the Spirit of '76 is Still Alive in South Africa

For Youth Day we look back at six moments that show the spirit of 1976 is still alive in South Africa.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the June 16 Soweto Uprising, in which tens of thousands of black South African students marched in response to the Apartheid regime’s implementation of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in local schools. Fast forward to 2015, a year of student activism in South Africa in which university students all around the country stood up against the government's proposed 10.5% increase in tertiary education. From the songs, to the now iconic images to the indomitable faces of the movement South African young people disproved the notion of apathy among today's youth. Below, we look back at six moments that show the spirit of 1976 is still alive in South Africa.

Rhodes Must Fall (University of Cape Town, March 2015)

The movement started on 9 March 2015 at the University of Cape Town when student activist Chumani Maxwele threw human excrement on the famed statue of known white supremacist and “architect of apartheid” Cecil John Rhodes. The protests were initially about removing the statue but grew to encompass institutional racism at the university.

“We are fighting for the black experience to matter. The people who commemorated [Cecil John Rhodes] didn’t want people like me on campus” Mbali Matandela, a member of the movement, told The Citizen.

After almost a month of protests, occupations and dialogues, UCT’s senate finally voted to remove the statue on 9 April 2015, which was celebrated on Twitter with the hashtag #RhodesHasFallen, signaling a symbolic victory in the fight against white supremacy and the decolonization of tertiary education.

Umfolozi TVET College Protest (Umfolozi TVET College, June 2015)

On 24 June 2015, students at Umfolozi TVET College in Richards Bay broke out in protest, interrupted classes and called for the SRC to be removed, citing their lack of study material, NSFAS’ ineffectiveness and the general lack of support students get from the institution.

Similar protests had broken out a month earlier at the eSikhaleni campus with students complaining about poor facilities, lack of adequate accommodation and unresolved student loans applications. “The majority of students who study at the college come from poor backgrounds. As a result they flock to the college with the hope of receiving loans for their studies through NSFAS. For the college to turn around and say the funds are exhausted is a fallacy,” Lindokuhle Ndlovu, eSikhaleni College SRC President, said at the time.

As a direct result of the protests uMfolozi TVET College Rector Sam Zungu said a study was conducted by NSFAS to reevaluate the application procedures, and a decision was made that students should start applying directly to NSFAS for funding. There hasn’t been a clear indication of the success of the protests as negotiations are still ongoing.

Open Stellenbosch & the Luister Documentary (Stellenbosch University, July 2015)

In late July 2015 news broke of a group of students breaking into protest inside a lecture hall at Stellenbosch University. The relatively small demonstration emanated from the institutions’ exclusionary language policy (with Afrikaans being the main medium of instruction at the historically Afrikaans institution) and was led by members of what would later become known as the Open Stellenbosch movement.

As a direct result of the protests Radio DJ and filmmaker Dan Corder, in partnership with Cape Town production company Contraband and the Open Stellenbosch movement, made the now infamous Luister documentary. A scathing look at the ongoing racism and discrimination experienced by multiple students on campus, the 32-minute documentary gained country-wide attention resulting in parliament calling an urgent meeting with the university’s management to discuss transformation.

Fees Must Fall (Nationwide, October 2015)

The granddaddy of them all, #FeesMustFall was a student-led protest movement that started in October 2015 in response to the proposed 10.5% increase in fees at all South African tertiary institutions in 2016. The protests, led by outgoing Wits SRC president Shaeera Kalla and incoming president Nompendulo Mkatshwa, started at Wits University but later spread to surrounding universities in Johannesburg, then ultimately every public tertiary institution in South Africa participated in a #NationalShutdown that saw civil disobedience marches and public disturbances take place all over the country.

Kalla and Mkatshwa were instrumental in ultimately leading the movement to a large march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria where President Jacob Zuma met with students leaders and announced a 0% increase in fees for the next few years.

End Outsourcing (Nationwide, October 2015)

The #EndOutsourcing protests were a direct result of #FeesMustFall. The two were protested in tandem when university staff across the country pledged their support for the student protests over what they deemed unfair labour practices. Outsourced workers––cleaners, catering staff, garden services and security guards––are usually paid less because they don’t work directly for the universities and have been struggling to be insourced for over 16 years.

As a result of the #EndOutsourcing protests, Pretoria University, University of Johannesburg, University of the Witwatersrand, UNISA, University of Cape Town and Tshwane University of Technology have all signed agreements to end outsourcing.

Naked Protest (Rhodes University and Wits University, April 2016)

Another direct result of the intersectional nature of #FeesMustFall, the Naked Protest erupted in mid-April 2016 when Rhodes University students protested half naked to stand against the university’s prevailing rape culture. The protests were sparked when an unnamed group published the names of 11 alleged rapists still at large at the university. Demonstrating around the hashtag #RUReferenceList, protesting students demanded that the university review its sexual assault policy and for rape charges to be included in the perpetrators’ academic records.

The Wits SRC joined the protest in solidarity with their own naked protest, lamenting the lack of support for rape victims by university management and the rape culture in general. The protests have sparked nationwide discussion on rape culture in universities.

Thapelo Mosiuoa is a Johannesburg-based copywriter, lifestyle writer and the author of an unfinished book. Follow him on Twitter at @ThapeloMosiuoa.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed Ali poses after being awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony 2018 at Oslo City Town Hall on December 10, 2019 in Oslo, Norway. (Photo by Erik Valestrand/Getty Images)

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Accepts Nobel Peace Prize Amidst Wave of Protest

The leader, who has been called a 'reformist' has been met with criticism from those who believe his efforts have not brought about tangible change.

Following the announcement of his win October, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed formally received his Nobel Peace Prize during the award ceremony in Oslo, Norway on Tuesday for his efforts to "achieve peace and international cooperation."

During his lecture, Ahmed addressed the ongoing quest for "peace," which he has been credited for fostering between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea following two decades of hostility between the two nations.

"For me, nurturing peace is like planting and growing trees," said Ahmed in his speech. "Just like trees need water and good soil to grow, peace requires unwavering commitment, infinite patience, and good will to cultivate and harvest its dividends." Ahmed was praised by chairperson of the Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, for representing a "new generation of African leaders who realise that conflict must be resolved by peaceful means."

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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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Image courtesy of Lula Ali Ismaïl

'Dhalinyaro' Is the Female Coming-of-Age Story Bringing Djibouti's Film Industry to Life

The must-watch film, from Lula Ali Ismaïl, paints a novel picture of Djibouti's capital city through the story of three friends.

If you're having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it's likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It's a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a "universal story of youth," but set in the country she loves—Djibouti.

The story revolves around the lives of three young friends from different socio-economic backgrounds, with completely varied attitudes towards life, but bound by a deep friendship. There is Asma, the conservative academic genius who dreams of going to medical school and hails from a modest family. Hibo, a rebellious, liberal, spoiled girl from a very wealthy family who learns to be a better friend as the film evolves and finally Deka. Deka is the binding force in the friendship, a brilliant though sometimes naïve teen who finds herself torn between her divorced mother's ambitions to give her a better life having saved up all her life for her to go to university abroad, and her own conviction that she wants to study and succeed in her own country.

Okayafrica contributor, Ciku Kimeria speaks to Ismaïl on her groundbreaking film, her hopes for the filmmaking industry and the universality of stories.

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Stogie T Enlists Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and More, for ‘The Empire of Sheep’ Deluxe Edition

Stream the deluxe version of Stogie T's EP 'The Empire of Sheep' featuring Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and more.

Stogie T just shared a deluxe version of his 2019 EP The Empire of Sheep titled EP The Empire of Sheep (Deluxe Unmasked). The project comes with three new songs. "All You Do Is Talk" features fellow South African rappers Nasty C, Boity and Nadia Nakai. New York lyricist appears on "Bad Luck" while one of Stogie T's favorite collaborators Ziyon appears on "The Making."

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