I-Worry Yam Regarding a 'Faceless' #FeesMustFall2016

2016-09-21 11:58

Revolutions, no matter how good the intentions are behind them, can have unintended disastrous consequences. The Arab Spring of 2010 has left behind free, but unstable countries in a state of instability and economic decline now known as the Arab Winter.

I myself commended students’ effort to create a movement where no one really ‘stands out’. It’s an idea that’s easy to get behind. But after a bit of thought, and looking at previous protests in recent history, I realized this could jeopardise the free education that so many are putting their bodies on the line to achieve.

As much as we all have some sort of idea of what we want, there are those whose vision is clearer than others’ about what it is and how to get it. Having these chosen few at the helm of movements helps clear up a lot of divisive confusion. An example of the confusion I’m talking about revealed itself at the very beginning of the protest earlier this week.


A movement with many leaders can easily turn into a movement without a leader. Universities, authorities and the government are waging a propaganda war against fallists.

We need leaders that understand that it’s not about winning against a couple of private security guards and riot police. In this perception war, we’re already seeing that authorities are not being as ‘wreckless’ in their brutality against protesting students, barring in only a few instances. This will leave protesters in a position where they are the ‘instigators’ of undue violence. Universities themselves are very close to the mainstream media, who collectively shape how the public perceives the Fees Must Fall movement.

I’ve already seen this when the SA Human Rights Commission released their Education Protest Report. The institution cited a report by the Centre for Child Law saying that protest action at schools have nothing to do with education. I was suspicious of this finding, so I tried to find out more information about the Centre for Child Law. I then found that it’s based at the University of Pretoria, which is a hotbed of racial tension among its students. So it makes the entire finding questionable since we can’t be sure exactly how the information backing the finding was gathered.


For ambience, I thought I should add this footage of a standoff between mainly white students at the University of Pretoria, against the university’s protesting students, who are mostly black.


Leaders, or the good ones at least, help represent their followers where there isn’t enough room in the camera frame for everyone. They help communicate the movement’s position, motivations and ideas in spaces where only a few key figures can be accommodated.

There’s not a lot of people that wanted to be taken away from their families and get sent to Robben Island for 27 years. There’s not a lot of people that are willing to be as controversial as the situation demands it, risking paying the ultimate price for their disruption of the status quo. Without someone willing to risk being the scapegoat when things go wrong, we risk losing the chance to see things go right in the first place.

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