Most South African universities have been affected by the Fees Must Fall (FMF) movement. While the demand for free and decolonized education has not yet been met, the demand has certainly been heard far across the borders of South Africa. On October 19, students from various universities and workers took part in a solidarity march in New York.
The march began in Bryant Park. Students and workers marched to the South African consulate in New York to hand over an open letter. The letter was addressed to Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, South African ambassador to the United States. Ciaran Heywood, one of the protest organisers, explained that “Our main mission was an attempt to send a message of strength to the students in South Africa and ask them to continue fighting.” People clearly expressed their views on posters with messages encouraging students to stay strong, condemning police brutality and reiterating the call for free decolonized education.
In the open letter several demands were made which echo the demands of student protestors at the South African universities. The first demand made was that primary, secondary and tertiary education is paid for by the government by raising the taxes on the rich. This was followed by the demand for universities to be “transformed from a colonial and capitalist institution into an educational space that is liberatory and foregrounds struggles against racism, patriarchy and capitalism.” The third demand made was that the structure of universities be democratised meaning that all students and workers have a say. The last two demands were that workers are treated with dignity and respect as well as the banning of police and other forms of social control.
This is a powerful gesture as South Africans that are halfway around the world are willing to the stand with the students fighting at home. International support is flowing in for the students that are fighting and so fuelling the fire once more. The Fees Must Fall movement hitting the Big Apple shows that this is a matter that concerns us all.