#FeesMustFall was just the beginning

Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation published by Pan MacMillan.
Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation published by Pan MacMillan.

The basic framework and ideology of #MustFall created a blueprint for how a change in our post-1994 society could and, dare I say, should take place under a generation of people temporally detached from our apartheid history. 

#MustFall movements work towards de-linking us from the current state of nature that imagines South Africa as a country that is equal for all. They argue that it is just a mythological construct laid over the social and economic truths of the country. We may be resilient as a country, but we are not unbreakable.

#FeesMustFall might be the current iteration of #MustFall politics, but it will not be the last. It was unique in that it was the first to test the blueprint of achieving economic freedom in our lifetime, a blueprint that highlighted how to actively mobilise young people on a sustained day to day programme to both agitate and advocate for change in a post-1994 society. 

It stands to reason that the success of the movement in eventually achieving its goals will undoubtedly embolden some to improve the process. To highlight its weaknesses and amplify its strengths. To shift the blueprint out of the ivory towers of universities and into spaces broader based and representative of the plight of black people across South Africa.

Eventually, the questions will be asked: what to do with those who have had a glimpse into the world of the economically emancipated, and should they be trusted? Should the revolution include them? In the same breath, those who have glimpsed this supposed utopia should turn the question on themselves: are they willing to risk it all to achieve freedom for all, to give up the proximity to whiteness in order fully to embrace a world no longer dictated by 1652s?

The rainbow nation no longer exists. Its hold on our national consciousness is being taken apart, piece by piece, by a generation of young people no longer enamoured with it nor in awe of it. A generation willing to build a new society that no longer uses the imaginings of a post-apartheid one as its foundation. It is a movement that sees the future of the country as a blank canvas, an opportunity to pick up the baton that was once dropped and start the race for change again.

During the protest at parliament, one image that stuck with me was that of a poster that read "Our parents were sold dreams in 1994, we are just here for the refund".

The rules that governed the engagement of young people in politics have begun to be rewritten. The terms of engagement have been altered as we move further away from the end of apartheid in its more formalised and legal state into an apartheid that is more informal yet still visceral. 

We are far from the beginning of the end game, but our country and our parents need to start thinking deeply about how to chart the future. If they are unwilling, the mission will be taken on by someone else. But just as #FeesMustFall refused to be told how they should engage in politics, any future iteration of #MustFall politics will most likely take on a similar demeanour. One that I do not believe will be persuaded to stop, even when it achieves its goal.

* This extract was taken from Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation by Rekgotsofetse Chikane, published by Pan MacMillan.

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