Category Archives: Politics

Reporting Students’ Fees Struggle: Seeing Images of myself in the Story

Reporting Students’ Fees Struggle: Seeing Images of myself in the Story

by Lerato Makate*

Preamble:  In the last three weeks throughout the country, our institutions of higher learning saw an uprising of unparalleled proportions since the dawn of democracy. An uprising that I am surprised these institutions were not ready for, as students went on protest demanding a no increase on already expensive university fees in a developing country such as ours. As a member of the  media I like others in my field found myself faced with covering this story as it unfolded, in my case right from the beginning when the initial rumbles of a shutdown at Wits University began on that fateful Wednesday the 14th October, and through its intensification as the week progressed. For those of us who were at the forefront of the coverage of this story a myriad of things began to happen inside of us, this article is a recounting of what  happened inside me as I covered this  story.

 

The heart feels heavy, very heavy. On any given day working in the field as a reporter is tough: it demands that one take a lot in, in terms of the facts and emotions of the story. It is tougher still when you work for a university radio station and you are hoping to cover events as they unfold, assisted by colleagues in training, my student volunteers, who themselves are part of the story.

You do this with a heavy heart, because you, like many other young professionals have the burden of a yet to be repaid National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) loan—for a four year undergraduate qualification, while your other two postgraduate qualifications were funded for by bursaries and student loans.  Bursaries for which you had to write demeaning motivation letters: stating just how needy you were, and how little your parents could do for you by way of funding your education. Motivation letters that required that you paint magnificent pictures of what getting this education would mean for you, your family, and your community. Letters that demanded that you put your best foot forward and wax lyrical about just how brilliant you are, all in a bid to win at this bursary  and funding ‘competition’ for which there are only a few spots available, which sadly is the way things work, right?

You tell yourself your circumstances are slightly better, after all your mother is a nurse, a public servant, at least she has a secure job, with a salary that covers, even if barely, your family’s needs. In spite of this, the word necessity is one you soon become familiar with, even as a child.

But you are still in a better-off position compared to your peers in your neighborhood, who every day you see giving up because of all the systemic odds stacked against them. You see them loose the resolve of “going against the grain” (also known as trying to work towards a better future). You see the fire to fight for their life and livelihoods die in them. You see them give up on trying one more time because they have just run out of both the physical and emotional strength to go through the rejection for the umpteenth time.

Not so for you! You after years of holding down an underpaying job and having incurred significant debt, temporarily give up your job to study even further in the hope that an improvement of your education would mean a better paying job. You do all of this self-improvement at the most basic level so that you are able to contribute to your sister’s, niece’s and nephew’s registration fees, books and accommodation costs, to whatever extent you can, and your family’s household costs too.; The so-called ‘black tax’, which you currently cover with some strategic planning and a lot debt.  You become strategic so you can enjoy some semblance of a quality of life better than the generation before yours did, just like the protesting students are doing.

Walking in front of the students to capture the images, the songs, the signs of unity and power, you realize that in addition to covering the story, you too are part of it; you are here in the frontlines as both an independent observer and affected party. You are part of the students, you too want for fees to fall.

But in this job, factual information is critical; recounting the story as it happens is imperative, even as it gets too much to handle, you have to take it in and get on with it.  This is more than theory, especially in the face of students’ resolve, who despite   looking tired and emotional remained focused.

Their resolve at a personal level was a firm reminder of my own circumstances. In the coming year, I am yet again to embark on this business of self-improvement through education yet again, pursue my Masters degree in hope of better job opportunities to do meaningful work in impacting the lives of the most marginalized who are also the majority. Will I be able to afford to help three family members in university and college respectively, in their quest to continue to complete their own education, while they themselves carry the burden of a NSFAS loan? Oh and yes, will I be able to pay for my own minimum initial payment for my studies, as I wait for bursary outcomes and try to spread my Rand?

Pushing back the questions, again I am reminded that as a reporter, you take it in and get on with it. As you cover the story, know with a bleeding heart on which side of the sidelines you stand. While you may wear different hats, each with its own responsibilities, powers and burdens really, but ultimately you stand firmly with the students, as their fight against a fee increase, opening up a debate on the prospects of a more affordable, and even a free quality education, because, you are after all one of them!

*Lerato Makate is a default Joburger employed as a University Radio station Programming Manager. Her academic background is been in Media Studies, Media Management and and a Health Journalism Honours from University of the Witwatersrand and Rhodes University (South Africa). She prefers to be referred to as, and call herself, a radio junky. And she now trains student radio volunteers for industry. With an interest in the different facets of the media and how messages are received by audience and social issues, she’s soon to take up a Masters degree in Public Health; to look at how media and social behavioural campaigns can succeed or need to improve to be effective in preventive health policies in the country.

Political violence in schools, effects on education and broader implications for youth and society: The case of the Student Federation of Côte d’Ivoire (Fédération Estudiantine et Scolaire de Côte d’Ivoire, FESCI)

Political violence in schools, effects on education and broader implications for youth and society: The case of the Student Federation of Côte d’Ivoire (Fédération Estudiantine et Scolaire de Côte d’Ivoire, FESCI)

Tweet By: Emmanuelle Assy From a barely tolerated and highly repressed students’ rights organization under the one-party leadership, to a state-sponsored armed militia accused of various human rights abuses, the Student Federation of Côte d’Ivoire (Fédération Estudiantine et Scolaire de Côte d’Ivoire, FESCI) has been a key and controversial political (and military) force in and out… Continue Reading

Perspectives from Nagasaki and Africa:  The Importance of Peace Education and Why We Need to Rethink the Japanese Government’s Newly Adopted “Right to Collective Self-Defense” (Part 3)

Perspectives from Nagasaki and Africa: The Importance of Peace Education and Why We Need to Rethink the Japanese Government’s Newly Adopted “Right to Collective Self-Defense” (Part 3)

Tweet Written by Susumu Imaizumi* and Translated by Aki Tanaka**  What Could Happen in Africa The primary victims of the Japanese government’s recently adopted “right to collective self-defense”  will be neither Japanese nor people of East Asian countries. I explained in Part Two of this article the reasons behind my observation regarding this matter. In fact,… Continue Reading

Perspectives from Nagasaki and Africa: The Importance of Peace Education and Why We Need to Rethink the Japanese Government’s Newly Adopted “Right to Collective Self-Defense” (Part 2)—The People of Japan Are Already on the Battle Field

Perspectives from Nagasaki and Africa: The Importance of Peace Education and Why We Need to Rethink the Japanese Government’s Newly Adopted “Right to Collective Self-Defense” (Part 2)—The People of Japan Are Already on the Battle Field

Tweet Written by Susumu Imaizumi* Translated by Aki Tanaka**  It would not be a misinterpretation if we understand this newly developed Japanese “right to collective self-defense” as the right to join in a war. Some Japanese people are concerned about the safety of Japan and believe that our country needs the Senkaku Islands and Takeshima[1]… Continue Reading

Perspectives from Nagasaki and Africa:  The Importance of Peace Education and Why We Need to Rethink the Japanese Government’s Newly Adopted “Right to Collective Self-Defense” (Part 1)

Perspectives from Nagasaki and Africa: The Importance of Peace Education and Why We Need to Rethink the Japanese Government’s Newly Adopted “Right to Collective Self-Defense” (Part 1)

Tweet Written by Susumu Imaizumi* Translated by Aki Tanaka** There must be a reason why a Nagasaki-born student like Susumu Imaizumi feels a strong connection to the African continent, the past and present. In search of answers, he travels, he communicates, he researches, and he writes. This manuscript, developed and published during his recent travels,… Continue Reading

To Dress “African” or Not: the politics behind a personal “rational” choice

To Dress “African” or Not: the politics behind a personal “rational” choice

Tweet By: Emmanuelle Adjima Assy* Needless to say, first impressions do matter.  Human beings seem to be sociologically modeled to judge a book by its cover when it comes to social interactions. The fact is that any form of non verbal communication and exterior appearances constitute a distinctive way to self introduce to others before spoken… Continue Reading

Political Sexual Conspiracy in the African Context

Political Sexual Conspiracy in the African Context

Tweet By: Moises M. Antunes, “Wima the Poet”* African contemporary politics have been marred with a lack of intellectualism due to a common trend of political conspiracies. This emerged in the second wave of democratic transitions in the late 90s when in many African countries, ruling parties had to share their political space with opposition… Continue Reading

All struggles are connected: The intersections of the political

All struggles are connected: The intersections of the political

Tweet By: Camalita Naicker* During the Rape Crisis Teach-in held by the Rhodes University Politics Department in Grahamstown this July, South African historian and researcher Dr Catherine Burns, brought up a little known event that happened in Soweto in February 1990. Mary Mabaso had organised an anti-rape march to draw attention to the increase in… Continue Reading

Preserving White Power, Public Intellectualism and Silencing the Black Voice: Why Kameel Premhid and Thorne Godinho are wrong about Andile Mngxitama

Preserving White Power, Public Intellectualism and Silencing the Black Voice: Why Kameel Premhid and Thorne Godinho are wrong about Andile Mngxitama

Tweet By: Gcobani Qambela* I recently read a poor attempt to silence South African social commentator and activist Andile Mngxitama, or rather a call to “boycott” him by Kameel Premhid and Thorne Godinho in the Mail & Guardian’s Though Leader page. The duo claims that “Mngxitama has a long and troublesome history of advocating a-part-hate.… Continue Reading