#feesmustfall: It is time for an African rebirth

Feesmustfall

Education should not be a gift of privilege, it is should be a fundamental human right. It should be the responsibility of a nation to make its people are well prepared for a world that won’t always be forgiving.

The current protest in South Africa may seem like just another rowdy students throwing a fit because they can’t their way. I have heard people say this. I assure you it is not. The youth of South Africa, these students who are protesting peacefully, are asking a simple question. When are the freedoms that democracy promised going to be realized? These “bornfrees” who are meant to have a better future than that of their parents. When will this future arrive. Higher education is not privilege it is how a country builds its people to take their place on a global stage. If we block the roads that leads to the global stage what have done but taken our children and cut them off at their knees.

These protests have seen parents teach their kids how to survive teargas, a lesson no parent should teach. One that is necessary now. These parents encourage their kids to take a stand. We talk about this generation that they care about nothing but their phones and their status updates on Facebook. They are proving us wrong in the best way possible. They are not asking for free education, they want to pay they just need it to be reasonable because it is not. Education is not a privilege it is human right.

These protests addresses a bigger issue on the African continent. A continent that has stood by while governments did as they pleased. Africa is notorious for its passive aggression, we complain, moan about governments, corruption and the fact that our nations are in a mess, yet we do nothing about it. We allow our governments to get away with all manner of sins. We talk of the good old day, well buck up people because those days are not coming back. We are in the now and if we don’t stand up and fight for something now the future will be nothing but slum of broken dreams and could have been empires.

What is wrong with us? This the continent of mathematics, the continent of playwrights, nobel laureates and scientific breakthroughs. We should be a proud people, who refuse to be silenced by injustice. We cannot be letting our disruptors stand alone. We must teach our children to stand up for what is right, what is necessary and what they must.

Feesmustfall is about disrupting the status quo and we must disrupt it. You must disrupt the status quo when it does not represent the need of the people it vowed to protect. There is nothing political about feesmustfall, your political agendas are irrelevant. This is a generation of people taking back their country from people who will not look at for their interest.

Africa, we can no longer stand idly by and watch our countries taken from us by geriatrics who are stilling fight an old war that has nothing to do with our future. We cannot allow political agendas decide who we become or where we are going.

Image: Tawanda Moyo via Instagram

I am not my hair: discovering my face was good enough

M1

“No colour?”, “Your natural hair is so long!”, “What happened to the weave?” and “Woah you are gorgeous!”

I have been a loyal member of the weave cult for the better part of the 10 years, as soon as I realized that braids were not doing my hairline any favours. For ten years, I have not seen what my natural hair actually looked liked and neither had the people closet to me. It felt like a state secret one that me and my many hairstylists in the last ten years guarded with our lives.

I had good reasons for not wanting my natural hair exposed the world, or at least they seemed good to me. My hair is quite thin and after years of trying to fix it I gave up. It also frizzes, just introduce it to air and it will grow a life of its own, with the most intense tiny curls known to man. This meant that my natural hair would require straightening every day, it laughs in the face of relaxers and at the risk of looking like ‘Cousin It’ in every photo I take I just to hide it. It was my secret shame. My untamable beast.

So what changed?

The weave I had seemed uncomfortable somehow, I felt like a fraud in it and I needed to take it off. I marched into my stylist salon and said to him please take this off and give me temporary braids till I decide what is next. He wants to get paid so he did as he was paid. I generally never pay attention when he is working as I trust him with my hair implicitly. He was in the process of blow drying my hair, when he asked if he could try something before we braided. I said yes. He blew out hair and styled it with very hot GHD and asked me to look. My natural hair, long and beautiful. Stared at the person in the mirror for a long while because I clumsily asked: “Is that me?”

“I know you want to cover this up as quickly as possible but, I have been doing your hair for a year now and I have never seen you more beautiful, please keep it like this,” he said to me.

M2

Then it hit me, I wasn’t afraid that I would be unable to manage the crazy hair I had been blessed with, I was afraid that without the weave extras I would not be enough.

It’s almost as though as black women, we don’t trust that we are beautiful enough without the weaves. At least this held true for me. I didn’t trust that my face on its own was beautiful and that as the perfect product of both my very good looking parents that I was enough without the mask of the weave.

I don’t know why we do this. A friend of mine reckons its the media. We have been influenced to think that our own hair is not good enough and enhancements are needed for us to truly be beautiful. I suppose that is what India Arie meant when she said I am not my hair, because underneath all that weave or braids or whatever you have the person remains the same, the face remains the same. We have been sucked into a cultural vortex that we get introduced to as children when parents try to beat our hairs into submission for the purposes of the school conduct. We look at our wild crazy hairs and think if only it can be straight and just do as it is told. We wonder why we don’t look like all the beautiful people and their perfect hair, and we forgot to look at where beauty truly comes from and that our faces are made of the smiles and generosity of spirit we allow it.

I am not my hair, but I am face and my heart that should be more than enough for me and anyone else who takes interest.