Wednesday, November 11, 2015

South African University Students' #FeesMustFall Movement (information, videos, & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about the South African university students' #FeesMustFall (fees must fall) protest movement. Five YouTube videos of #FeesMustFall protests are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, and motivational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are involved in peaceful protest in South Africa. Thanks to all who are featured in this post and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

Excerpt #1 [Added May 1, 2017]
"#FeesMustFall is a student led protest movement that began in mid October 2015 in response to an increase in fees at South African universities.[6] Protests started at the University of Witwatersrand and spread to the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University before rapidly spreading to other universities across the country.[7] The 2015 protest ended when it was announced by the South African government that there would be no tuition fee increases for 2016. The protest in 2016 began when the South African Minister of Higher Education announced that there would be fee increases capped at 8% for 2017; however, each institution was given the freedom to decide by how much their tuition would increase.

The protests followed a three-day student lock-down of the University of Witwatersrand campus the week before following an announcement by the university that fees would be increasing by 10.5% in the following year[9] despite an inflation rate of only around 6% for the same year


Date: 12 October 2015 – ongoing

Location: South Africa


0% university fee increase for 2016.
Over R 600,000,000[2] damages.
Increased government funding for universities.

Injuries 2
Arrested - 619[3][4]"
This is the end of May 1, 2017 update except numbering and addition of video to replace one that is no longer available

Excerpt #2:
South Africa's 'fees must fall' protests are about more than tuition costs By Basani Baloyi and Gilad Isaacs, Special to CNN
Updated 7:24 AM ET, Wed October 28, 2015

"[CNN] editor note: Basani Baloyi is an alumni of the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa) and PhD candidate in economics at SOAS, University of London
Gilad Isaacs is a researcher in the School of Economics and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and also a PhD candidate at SOAS. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Story highlights
• On Friday 23 October, in response to student protests, President Zuma of South Africa announced no increase in tuition fees.
• Underlying causes of dissatisfaction remain, South Africa remains one of the world's most unequal societies.
• In higher education, white males make up 53% of the staff population despite being only 8% of the population.

(CNN)An unprecedented movement of student activism has been sweeping South African university campuses and cities, culminating in a march on the historic Union Buildings on Friday 23 October, the seat of the South African government. Not since the Soweto Uprising of 1976 have this many youth arisen to demand the right to quality and accessible education.

The students have won their demand of a 0% increase in tuition fees, with planned fee increases of up to 11.5%, at the heart of the protests. However, as ongoing demonstrations prove, the students' demands have been deeper than this. They have called for the "decolonization" and "transformation" of higher education institutions, the insourcing of outsourced workers (mostly cleaning, security and support staff, often the most vulnerable workers), and the release of their classmates arrested earlier in the week...

South Africa, by many measures, is the most unequal society in the world. A quick look at national statistics from 2014 shows that on average the top 10% of wage earners take home 90 times more in wages than bottom 10%, the top 1% earn 393 times the bottom 10%....

South Africa's youth also face a broader crisis. A third of young people, aged 15 to 24, are not employed or in higher education and the unemployment rate for this group is 50%. Primary and secondary education is also woefully inadequate, with only 36% of students who start grade 1 completing their grade 12 exams. Once again, schools in black townships and rural areas have the least access to quality education. Not all protesting students come from poor backgrounds but they all agree about one thing: fees represent access, both to higher education and to a better, more prosperous life...
Sidebar quote from that article: “White dominance is not just about numbers, it is about patterns of thinking and the style and content of teaching. “
For more background on student protests in South Africa, click Black Consciousness and student revolt in the Cape. Here's an excerpt from that article:
"After the government crackdown on political organizations in the early 1960s, new organizations emerged to fill the political vacuum. A movement based on the idea of being Black began to organize and educate the Black people particularly the youth. The Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) defiantly rejected apartheid and found resonance among black workers and the youth. In 1968 December South African Student Organization (SASO) was formed at a conference held in Marianhill, Natal. The conference was exclusively attended by Black students. After its launch SASO became the vehicle through which black consciousness ideology spread to schools and other university campuses across the country. SASO won support from the (African) University College campuses, Indian students at the University of Durban-Westville and Coloured students at the University of the Western Cape (UWC)....

In 1974 the South African Minister of Bantu Education and Development, MC Botha, issued a enacted a law that that imposed the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools. This was to be compulsory from students on Standard 5 upwards. Poor education given to Black people and the addition Afrikaans fueled the youth hatred for the apartheid system. As early as March 1976 students began passive resistance against Afrikaans. The outbreak of Soweto Uprising on 16 June 1976 spread to other parts of the country in the subsequent months...

The violent government crackdown on the 1976 student uprising across the country drove the youth into exile where some joined the ANC and MK for military training."

These examples are given in chronological order according to their publishing dates on YouTube with the oldest dated example given first.

Example #1: Wits Fees Must Fall - #WitsFeesMustFall

Constant King, Published on Oct 15, 2015

Wits SRC President Nompendulo Mkhatshwa addressed a crowd of peaceful protesters.

Wits fees protest. (15 October 2015)
"Wits" = University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Example #2: Fees must fall

Tebogo Mojaki, Published on Oct 21, 2015

NWU MAFIKENG CAMPUS has officially been shut down

We as students say no to fee increment
"NWU" = North-West University, South Africa

Example #3: FEES MUST FALL | Movie

BIPfilms, Published on Oct 22, 2015

University Students in South Africa rioting and fighting for Education , Fees Must Fall. #feesmustfall, #studentsmustfall,
A quote shown at .24 of the video:
“If the ANC does to u what apartheid government did to u, then you must do to ANC what you did to apartheid government."
-N. Mandela.

A sign at .29 in the video “1976 reloaded” [This refers to the 1976 Soweto student uprising which led to protests in other South African universities]
Here's a comment from that video's discussion thread that includes what appears to be the two main statements (rallying cries) for this movement:
Anele Mlambo, 2015
"thanks for the video mfowethu. Education is a right, not a privilege #FeesMustFall"

Example #4: Shutting Down the Rainbow Nation: #FeesMustFall

Africa is a Country, Published on Oct 25, 2015

Students shook the South African nation to its very core this week as protests swept across campuses with the so-called born frees at the helm. "Shutting Down the Rainbow Nation'' is a ten minute documentary that captures the energy and heart of the student-led movement, which shut down higher education institutions around the country. It speaks to the policing of the black body, state violence, and the fall of the 'rainbow nation', sewn together with videos posted by the public on Twitter and Facebook throughout the shutdown. History was re-written this week, as it became clear that even though the revolution may not have been (adequately) televised, it was certainly tweeted.

Video edited and produced by Leila Dougan.

Thumbnail image by Jabulile Newman.

Thanks to BCUC (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness) for the music (

We thank the twitterverse for their contribution including [a long list follows]...
The statement that "even though the revolution may not have been (adequately) televised, it was certainly tweeted" is a referent to African American Gil Scott-Heron's 1970 poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". Click for a sound file of that poem and several other African Ameriacn spoken word poems.
Selected comments from that video's discussion thread
Mpolokeng Mampana
"Much respect to all the students that fought and still continue to fight for what is right. #FreeEducation is struggle to be realised in our lifetime."

Simon Wallington
"'we're trying to break a cycle of poverty here'"

Elaine Nogueira-Godsey
"You are so right, "this is a national struggle, but it is also a global struggle"!"

Caroline tg
"Much love to all the students - My hope for the future lies in you and your conviction. I feel it is in some sense a full circle event, which will honour those who fell in the 70's and 80's. Every person who values freedom and justice will be standing behind you- I too believe this is ultimately a global movement which has the ability to redefine the way this world moves forward. So proud of the young South African women rising- Be safe, my heart is with you. Wathint'abafazi, wathint'imbokodo!"

Example #5: THE fight for FEES MUST FALL 2017 OFFICIAL TRAILER

Nathilife, Published on Oct 7, 2016

fees must fall strike
South African university
Added May 1, 2017 to replace a featured video that is no longer available.
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