We know, like we have always known, that we are not the sum total of our oppression. No matter what we have been told, or how we have managed to survive, like Lorde said, despite of and in spite of having all the odds stacked against us on all fronts, we know we are more than anyone said was possible. The #WitsFeesMustFall movement found me in a place of seeking that affirmation, that sign that we are indeed the sum total of our strengths, and that young people have not lost their voices, and we will not be silenced or locked away in the ivory tower of academia and made to believe that this is as good as it gets.
The #WitsFeesMustFall movement is about fees, but it is also about so many other things, that we, black and brown bodies existing in white imperialist structures that continue to push us further out. This movement is about the uncertainty of a future that we were guaranteed would be brighter. Work hard at school, we were told. Your sacrifices will be rewarded our parents were told. Education is the greatest equalizer, they said. It emerges that instead, money, more than anything else, is the greatest equaliser, but only for them who have it, or can beg, borrow or steal it.
The #WitsFeesMustFall movement is about us too. We are not full time lesbians, or gay, bisexual or trans people. We are students and the sisters and brothers of students. We are mothers to our children and our children’s children. We are teachers and domestic workers who save every cent to ensure that our siblings, our neighbours and our families live better lives. We are affected directly by the 10% increase of fees at Wits. We do not exists in bubbles that separate our struggles and oppression from the struggles and oppression of others. For this cause, because often we demand solidarity for our own fights against injustice, we too must show solidarity.
With all our colours and numbers, we should show that an injustice to one is an injustice to all, cliched as it sounds. We should stand side by side with the hundreds of students showing immense courage and resolve to right this gross wrong. We must have stories to tell our futures, of how we showed solidarity, and intersectionality of struggles.
The #WitsFeesMustFall movement is about more than just fees-it’s about all our futures, and what story we wish to tell when we are asked to account: where were we when we showed our strength?
-Sheena Gimase Magenya