New York rallies behind protesting South African students

2015-10-25 08:40
Tuelo Minah an executive member of Imbizo, a legalist organisation in New York City, leads protesters in song, outside South African cuisine restaurant Madiba in Brooklyn. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi

Tuelo Minah an executive member of Imbizo, a legalist organisation in New York City, leads protesters in song, outside South African cuisine restaurant Madiba in Brooklyn. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi

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WATCH: #FeesMustFall solidarity march held in London

2015-10-23 12:56

A march in solidarity with the protesting students in South Africa is underway in London. Watch.WATCH

As tensions between government and students continue to brew, a group of South Africans braved the chilly New York weather to show their support to protesting students, yesterday.

“They [the government] have forgotten that we put them there, that they are working for us. They have the nerve to point fingers and laugh at students and say that they must fall, what is that? It doesn’t make sense, it actually makes me angry,” said Vumelani Sibeko, a South African visual artist on a work trip in New York.

Sibeko was one of the close to 100 people who gathered in front of South African cuisine restaurant Madiba located in Brooklyn, to show their support to the thousands of protesting students.

He too was a victim of financial exclusion. He was forced to drop out in his final year as a fine arts student at the Vaal University of Technology. “My parents weren’t earning enough money. So I had to have a job,” he said.

Sibeko said he worked at various call centres while doing his art on the side – until he was able to establish himself and do his artistry on a full time basis.

Lwando Ncetshana, one of the founders of the New York South Africans in Solidarity, said living in America did not mean she was less South African and that the rally was a way of showing that South Africans abroad can also lend a hand.

“For me, before anything else I am South African. What goes on at home affects me because my family and friends and everyone that I love are back home. So their hopes are my hopes,” she said.

During the rally, the New York South Africans in Solidarity founders urged participants to make monetary donations that would go towards bail funds for arrested protesters, food and other supplies required by students.

Protesters were also urged to show their support by signing a petition that would put pressure on government to drop the charges against protesters who had legal charges filed against them.

Ncetshana, who is a PHD candidate in Microbiology at the New York University, said she moved to America at the age of 19 after failing to find sponsors to fund her studies.

“I could not afford an education in South Africa which is why I am here in the States ... My mum is a cleaner and that was the reason she could not send me to school.”

After a year and half of working as an Au pair, Ncetshana was able to find a sponsor to pay for her tuition. “But at the same time I was working at 7am until 6:30 in the evening and then I would go to school from 7pm to 10pm.

The New York gathering of South Africans in support of protesting students, comes a day after South Africans in London picketed at Trafalgar Square. South Africans in the UK called for the end of violence against students and for an open dialogue between the government and the youth.
Although President Jacob Zuma announced that there would be 0% tuition fees increase in 2016 following demonstration, Ncetshana said there was still work to be done. “We have a long way ahead of us and our government needs to be held accountable. Education is a right. It’s not a privilege,” she said.
Read more on:    new york  |  feesmustfall

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