This post is dedicated to all those on the front lines of the #FEESMUSTFALL protest in South Africa. In particular in memory of Benjamin Phehla, a student at TUT (former chairperson of the Faculty Student Council of the information and communications technology department). He was killed today as a car crashed into a group of protestors.
I see you young ones...
Transforming the sacred halls of knowledge.
I see you plotting, sharing and coding under jacarandas, in student accommodations, on street corners and on social media.
All amidst the crushing weight of debt. Sandwiched between walls of bodies unable to sit at the table and the noise of corruption.
You carrying the communities hope.
Set aside your burden for a moment. You have set your eye on a more pressing mission.
You've exchanged the weapons of the "learned" for the tools of the liberator
You are the blended fruit suckled on songs of liberation. Draw upon the struggle in your blood and the bodies at your feet. Biko, Ngugi and Nkrumah have planted their seeds well.
Electronic glows illuminate faces, eyes focused, spirit enraged, your very being determined. As you watch and stream and text your woes and comrades into rushing streams of action.
They never knew what hit them.
Those ones that heralded the first breath of freedom and then let it rot under hazardous care.
They slept as you toppled statues
They bried and feted as you burnt paintings, the first offering.
They snickered thinking that you were focused on the past while ignoring the present. That you were consumed by shiny things and the Kardashians. They thought you were just sipping lattes at Vida end eyeing Krispy Kreme.
Even now they stew in their own juices not realizing you are in it for the long game.
Flames are rising and the fuel of indifference sparks an inferno.
13 bullets sealed your fate! Don't act like you don't know what happens when you strike a rock. She won't crumble. She will rise and build again. That's a promise!
They saw what you did to khwezi and vowed not to be raped and silenced anymore.
After first blood was drawn and rubber bullets dented flesh and tear gas left stinging eyes and seared lungs...fear fled.
Who cages their young when they cry out in pain?
And now a life is lost. A warrior dead! No, a boy easing into manhood. Can you count his potential offspring cut short by your nonchalance? The ancestors can and they seethe for vengeance.
Students seeking a future, access, opportunity and unfulfilled promises.
These are no warriors. This is no war. These streets are not battlefields
This is no foreign land
You are no occupying force
You are not protecting us from harm!
My tears sit beside my rage. Comforted only by hope well placed in these young ones. Standing in the middle of the road. Does it look familiar. Once upon a time you were they.
These young ones pushing a tide of change.
I who stand on the sidelines am placing one foot in the road and then another. I stand side by side, in front and behind, because you are my hope and I will protect it all cost.
Without hope all is lost. Whether it's in the streets of South Africa or flowing from the lips of Michelle Obama.
Hope is the recognition of what is important right now
It is the promise of what is to come.
Yes young ones I see you.
(artist +activist) uses his/her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary