Waves of still ongoing protests (it has morphed from #FeesMustFall to#NationalShutdown) have brought to a halt several universities in South Africa –Wits University, University of Cape Town, Fort Hare, Rhodes and Stellenbosch have all been affected and students from other universities are joining the movement every day. At last count fourteen campuses were closed. (The protests have now moved to South Africa’s Parliament and at the time of writing had broken through Parliament’s gates, and marching with their hands up before being shot at with teargas and stun grenades.) The issue of student fee increases, and more generally the exorbitant cost of higher education for the average South African, have become the catalyst for the unrest. Demands for racial justice and concerns about economic inequality are coming together in a powerful call for change that cannot be ignored or easily dismissed.
For background on the fee hike, see this post in The Conversation by David Dickinson, a professor of sociology at the University of the Witswatersrand who voted against the fee hike. Dickinson points out that reduced state funding to public universities has made them into de facto private institutions, perpetuating class and racial divides in access to quality education in South Africa.
To learn more about the ongoing protests and follow their progress, I’ve compiled a Twitter list of news, analysis, and first-person reports. Below are some sample tweets from the list. You can also subscribe to the list on Twitter.
(I will continue to add names to the Twitter list without adding them below. Please add any recommendations in the comments.)
1. The Daily VOX, a youth-oriented media house in South Africa that many have pointed to as having the best live coverage of student protests:
2. The Twitter feed from the blog Africa is a Country, always a great source of information on events on the continent — and particularly good at identifying others to follow:
3. eNCA, South Africa’s 24-hour news channel:
4. Raeesa Pather, who today provided live video and photos from the protests:
I can't keep up with the violence. I have lost count of how many detained, how many stun grenades fired. Students just sang national anthem— raeesa pather (@raediology) October 21, 2015
5. Kgotsi Chikane, whose tweets have been showing how it’s not just students involved in the protests:
6. Johannesburg-based writer T.O. Molefe:
7. Broadcast journalism student at Rhodes University Sisipho Skweyiya:
9. A collective of protesters at the University of Cape Town also have a great feed, RhodesMustFall:
10. Parliamentary reporter for City Press/News24, Andisiwe Makinana:
BREAKING: The presiding officers of Parliament have called an urgent press conference.— Scapegoat (@AndiMakinana) October 21, 2015
11. Palesa Morudu, writer and managing director of South Africa’s independent publishing house Cover2Cover:
12. Cape Town-based media student and freelance journalist Ashleigh Furlong:
13. Political analyst Eusebius McKaiser, who draws links to earlier South African protest movements:
For us older farts: When writing about the students let's ask, "How do I render their choices intelligible?" vs deeming them irrational.— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) October 21, 2015
14. Daily Maverick journalist Rebecca Davis:
If there are other Twitter accounts you think offer insights into the ongoing events and their background, please add your recommendations in the comments and I will add to the list.
This post was updated on Thursday, October 22, 2015, to reflect that the Twitter account RhodesMustFall is actually run by a collective out of the University of Cape Town, not Rhodes University. As pointed out by reader Mikaela Erskog, the RhodesMustFall account name comes from an earlier movement by students calling for the prominent statue of Cecil John Rhodes on the UCT campus to fall.