“It’s an interesting time to be alive,” Binyavanga Wainaina
When I started blogging again, about a year ago, I promised myself that I would write more, and more frequently. The idea was at least one post per week, at most three posts per week. There is enough to write about, to discuss and engage on. The last post I did was two weeks ago and it is not because I fell back on the promise to write more. It’s because I had to shut up.
Students countrywide stood up and demanded to be served. They rallied together and demanded a fall in the fees charged by institutions of higher education. Through the movement – #FeesMustFall, a movement whose spirit is reminiscent of the Soweto Uprising of 16 June 1976, the student protests in the UK of 2010, the student-led Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the student protests that led to the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico in 1968, and many other – the students truimphed. The last two weeks were important not only for current students but also for students of the future. Over and above the results of the protests, the movement was telling of the political will and prowess of the student body in South Africa. The way they claimed agency in demanding affordable education – that was a smidgen of the power they wield in effecting political change.
So I had to shut up and not be part of any kind of noise that could distract from #FeesMustFall. In any way possible. No, this blog does not garner as much views as could have taken attention away from that movement. But the few eyeballs that do read this blog needed not be distracted from #FeesMustFall. As Panashe Chigumadzi said in a statement postponing the launch other first book, Sweet Medicine, “I cannot, in good faith, carry on with business as usual.” And so with thefruitofmylens.
There were so many learning moments witnessing this revolution unfold. One of the biggest ones for me was learning to shut up; clearing the air waves for those needing for their voices to be heard. However little my voice in the interwebs is. All there is for me to do in such instances is to pass on the mic if they need one, or to stand out of their way if they have a mic and not disrupt their moment. To support and egg on strongly, but to never disrupt their voice. That is empowerment. Because agency.