The Importance of mobilizing and developing activism on Campuses and in our communities and how to connect with all campuses in SA and Palestine on an intersectional level.
2) Challenges faced by youth in SA
It is quite well-known and frequently documented how in this country face multiple,
unending challenges. The most common are -mental health, poverty inaccessibility to
education (in most instance – due to lack do funding), unemployment, crime, drug abuse,
sexual offences and gender-based violence.
In writing this speech, I wanted to ensure that there is a reflection of not only my voice but of
others too and in doing so, I consulted peers and other youth about commonly- faced issues
and problems and one of them, named Bonga Mavuso, a student activist and leader,
highlights that “A lot of subtle and unsubtle injustice have been occurring to vast majority of
people in the communities especially people of colour where the way things are done or
procedures of systems put in place are directly disadvantaging this group of people.
In the context of students, the procedures found in universities and TVETS (which are
institutions of Technical Education and Training) are a contributing factor to the hardships
faced by students, especially from poor and working-class backgrounds. Where you find
NSFAS, on top of having incompetent and ridiculous ways of operating, haven’t increased
their allowance in the last 3 years but the cost of food and even VAT has increased greatly.
Where you find education is being treated as a privilege to us who cannot afford it. Where we
are told free education has been achieved but yet fees have not fallen, barriers to learning has
not fallen, even the colonized curriculum hasn’t fallen.” He further emphasises that “in a
world where injustice and unfairness has been normalised, activism is a need to radically
shift and challenge these “norms” to a new normal that includes social justice for
everyone not just a fair playing field. We need everyone to be be accommodated and
duly catered for as we all face different struggles and through activism, that can be
Comrade Bonga exposes an extremely important problem that is sadly faced by a number of
students in the country. Annually, we see how this problem not being addressed by relevant
authorities and as a manner of shedding light to such a problem, students have resort to
avenues that are demoralising and endangering, Surely, it cannot be that with the many years
we have entered our democratic era that the young continue to live in the manner we do –
morbidly, ignored and uncatered for. This, now more than ever, needs to change and we all
need to lend ourselves for such change.
3) Understanding activism on campus and grassroot causes in our communities,
lending our help and support
I believe that universities are one of the best and fertile spaces where one can begin and even
further their activist journey. Usually, when entering such spaces, one is at an age where one
is at the process of building their character, shaping one’s principles and finding out who they
are. It is a wonderful and even meaningful opportunity for us, the young to engage with
fellow activists and to be involved in causes that are aimed at uplifting and empowering
others. Moreso, you are giving the opportunity to spearhead and to be at the forefront of
moulding and I cannot possibly think of anything more magical than to be of service
Now, in both our communities and university spaces, we need that we conscientize and
educate everyone and not the young. Knowledge and action is not reserved for the young.
There are multiple ways in which you can lend such support, whether tacitly or expressly:
creating a space that allows for dialogue and implementation to occur, may fund or contribute
financially to events and activities that further ideals of building a better world, actual active
participation in efforts of reform (like for example, this morning Amnesty International Wits
and the Climate Justice Charter Movement organised a really moving and impactful
demonstration outside the Gauteng Legislature. So when events of such nature occur, ensure
you are present and lend your support). Something as simple as sharing a poster about such
events also counts. You may also sign petitions, volunteer etc. There are so many ways to
great things. All of them just require you and your support.
So, if you are see people working towards good, be just as active as they are, within your own
capacity, and lend your participation. Don’t ever disregard how important your impact and
contribution may be, no matter how trivial you may think it may be. We simply cannot label
ourselves as proponents and supporters of the struggle if our actions cannot account for who
and what we deem ourselves to be. The revolution does not rely on lip service. SAY IT
WITH ME – THE REVOLUTION DOES NOT RELY ON LIP SERVICE. (REPEAT
In 1989, law Professor and civil rights activists Kimberle Crenshaw coins this wonderful term
that we hear so often but never really understand and realise its application. Professor
Crenshaw defines intersectionality as a concept that refers to the ways in which oppressive
institutions (such as sexism, racism, apartheid etc) are interconnected and cannot be
examined separately from one another. It is basically saying that your struggle and mine,
though manifesting in different ways, are the same and that is what binds us. To me, it is a
concept fused with a principle which we South Africans are very familiar with – Ubuntu (I
am because you are), your struggles are relative to mine. You are me just as much as I am
you. And together, we are an entity that is oppression’s worst nightmare.
One of my favourite political activists, Angela Davis perfectly displays intersectionality when
she said “My trajectory as an activist has been aligned with a struggle for a free Palestine.
Free Palestine has constituted my foundation.” This is an important and powerful ideology
that allows for us all to recognise and realise that our struggles are interlinked and are rooted
in a common denominator – oppression. This awakens the need for us to galvanise and come
together as a people. Eventually, we must all, collectively, come to the realisation that change
can only be affected through mobilisation and unity amongst us. Change requires for all to
congregate in the face of oppression and adversity and to display our immaculate power. Yes,
you will be definitely met with opposing, counter-revolutionary forces that will try to
question the reason for your cause or even want to extinguish it but we must ensure that we
are determined, unmoved and unshaken and that we continue to be resolute in the principles
we believe and are undoubtedly confident that will not benefit us individually but also
advantage everyone else.
“When “I” is replaced by “We”, even Illness becomes Wellness” I always find these words
by Malcolm X to be an incredibly important source of founding solidarity and unity in all
causes and I believe in my own interpretation that it also subtly, wonderfully encapsulates the
importance of understanding why all struggles are intersectional.
Before, I conclude, I want to remind all of us who are present here today, be it physically or
virtually that we all have a duty. A duty that binds us all and requires us all to be active,
courageous, to be of valuable and rewarding service and an important need for us to
understand our role and placing in this world in combatting oppression and creating a world
where concepts of justice and fairness are not just restricted as notions found in progressive
writings but are notions that actually come to fruitation. And we are the ones responsible for
that. I have firm hope that we can and will move towards such ideals and goals. And I
challenge everyone here today to be just that. This world is crafted or built for you to exist in
that manner. So that is why you must continue being the resilient and powerful warrior thatnyou are.