YOUNG BLACK WOMEN DEMAND EDUCATION NOW!

2015-10-20 16:38

I must say that I was very impressed with the tweets I saw about women leading the ?#?FeesMustFall? movement. Their refusal to condone young men taking over political spaces and playing on the 'privilege' they possess as men. I was happy because the image of the former SRC president and Vuyani Pambo leading the masses of students through what seemed like the Mandela Bridge at the exclusion of young powerful female activists discomforted me.? However, my sisters responded forcefully and reclaimed the space. I hope that we will continue to lead on matters that affect us severely as gendered beings born into a cruel, racist and patriarchal world. A gendered existence whereby access to higher echelons of society is often through sexual ties with men and/or their willingness to give us a platform for us to participate. Consider the saddening fact reported by Forbes that out of total 1,826 billionaires, 197 are women. The richest woman in this world inherited her wealth from a patriarch. The second richest woman also inherited her riches from her father and they are white.

Maria Franca Fissolo also recently made the ranks and her status was attained through her deceased husband. The list of such women is endless and the message being channeled to us is that to own the means of production, you either have to marry into wealth or inherit it. Unfortunately the inheritance option is out for many of us young black women, in fact I should say all of us for not even the Motsepe female descendants could claim the status at which the above mentioned white women have. To the young radical feminists who disdain patriarchal chauvinism and are not willing to trade their power for men with warped sense of masculinity, you are all damned to become and remain the wretched of the earth.

I should highlight to those who oppose the current students’ uprising that the patriarchal white supremacist system in South Africa very is cruel. The tactical denial of young people, especially young black women, to access education is tantamount to reproducing and worsening the horrifying conditions many women find themselves globally. For instance, some women have found themselves sexually exploited in order to access employment or mobility within the corporate sector. Without being armed with education, our chances of demanding the positions we deserve becomes minimal and thus subjecting us to the fatal clutches of systematic violence through perpetuated exclusion. We want to end up owning the means of production; we want to fairly benefit from the developmental projects planned for Africa’s growth however, without education and justice this becomes difficult.

Rendering education too expensive for young black women to access equates fueling the widening inequality gap. The Africa Check report exposed that the actual unemployment rate for young black women in South Africa is 49.1% of the total figure of unemployment in comparison to the 1.1% of young white men of the same working age. The high unemployment rate in South Africa is linked the fact that the nature of the South African economy requires graduates with academic or technical skills. They reported that the “combined tertiary sector of the economy accounts for about 70% of the value generated annually…” yet only 13% of the adult population in South Africa has tertiary education. I shall repeat that, only 13% of the South African adult population has tertiary education. This represents a 3% percent increase since 2002. Isn’t this crazy?

This means, if you do not have a tertiary qualification as a black woman you are simply dammed unless if you can handle being married to a patriarch (how awful). It is highly unfortunate that an option being left for women is marriage if they seek to live in decency for we know there is nothing decent about poverty. We should be marrying for 'love' and not because of economic dependency and if you are queer, shame, askies! Business Tech also reported earlier this year that only 31% of South Africa’s working population is in the formal sector. The rest of everyone else is operating within the informal economy where you find domestic workers. this means if you are not to become a domestic worker chances are you may end up selling di sweets or magwinya ko di renkeng if not in the retail industry where our cashiers can only afford to buy hair with their income and we all know price ya Brazillian weave ha se papadi. To make matters worse, the neo-liberal path that we are traversing (and fine-tuned by the Democratic Alliance) means if we privatize the essential services such as health an education, the majority of people will not have access to it due to affordability and guess who is burdened with the responsibility of caring for the sick, the dying, the children and everyone else who is a victim of systematic exclusion? Yes, it will be us, young black women.

Our refusal to take on the welfare responsibility of the state will probably have people insult us with questions and/or statements such as “you are heartless” “what kind of a woman are you…” I wish to answer for myself, “I am not a slave, therefore I willl not be manipulated into conducting unpaid labor”. We love and appreciate what our mothers have done for this world but we refuse to be trapped into that cycle where we are coerced into assuming the responsibility of the failures and limitations of the economic development models that have been shoved down Africa's throat. The evolving nature of capitalism and deepening inequalities means that we as young black women are going to have it harder (in terms of transformation) than the women who came before us. So the onus is on us to enforce transformation and to revolt now, today.

While we are on the subject of revolting, can we please stop claiming the fees must fall movement is a revolution. I can understand why the former Wits SRC president would think what is happening is a revolution because the ANC has a warped sense of what a revolution is. To the media and everyone else, this is not a revolution. Demanding free colonial education is by no means a revolution. A revolution simply means a total overthrow of an entire social order in favor of a new system. We, who suckle on neo-liberal education through the institutions of higher learning which are nothing but the ideological apparatuses of the hegemonic order, are trained to reproduce the same exclusionary, hoerarchical and patriarchal system. Our indebtedness, in the form of student loans, means we are going to be participating in the reproduction of a system that creates hierarchies, deepens inequalities and renders us nothing more than 'machines' and consumerists.

Kwameh Nkrumah in his Consciencism argued that “ideology of a society is total. It embraces the whole life of a people and manifests in their class, national and gender structure, history, literature, art and religion.” Therefore the fees must fall has no consequences for the type of education we acquire which Chinweizu correctly accused of alienating us from our own African communities. However, our presence in these colonial, un-African institutions means we can put pressure on our various faculties to change our curriculum in line with Africa and African developmental demands as some students within the Wits political studies department had begun doing.

I hope those who are aware of the implications of decolonizing universities on structural inequality will not stop them from seeking to aid the plea for young people to be given opportunities to become great people in this world. We have the right to make demands because we deserve to become human and as for us young black women, we refuse to become successful because we latch onto men's successes. We will become "successful" because we are capable.

WE DEMAND FREE EDUCATION NOW!

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