I keep asking myself: As young people, are we doing what needs to be done the way it should be done? Is our vigour and dynamism channelled in the right direction? If so, what is hindering us from reaching our desired situation? That is, a life in which we are free from unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, malnutrition and economic oppression.
I am reflecting on all this while also aware that in January I will appear in the Durban magistrate’s court. On that day it will not be what has become one of my “typical” appearances over the past three years. Instead, it will be a day of sentencing. A day I shall be punished by the state for my participation in the struggle for free decolonised education. A struggle I believe remains a noble one. A struggle I believe was long overdue. And a struggle I believe we had no other choice but to pursue, one we had to pursue with everything we had.
For advancing a course that is as noble as the one of free decolonised education we are tried, sentenced to jail, suffocated and subjected to humiliating processes. The question that comes to mind is: What has this done to our generation? Are there intentions to silence the youth or to instil a degree of fear and perhaps tame the youth from advancing their generational mission?
In the face of every difficulty, young people must not lose their focus and determination. We must know that we only have ourselves to rely on. If we are to defeat oppression we must be willing to suffer and sacrifice for our ideas. Young people have a responsibility to form a unity of purpose and continue to fight. We must ensure that we struggle for common goals and objectives in relation to our generation’s mission. We must be a youth that is upright. We must be a youth that is incorruptible. We must be a youth that is not materialistically driven. We must be a youth that is selfless, honest and driven by a great feeling of love for one another. If we possess such basics in our ranks our mission will be achieved sooner than anyone anticipated.
The continued incarceration of #FeesMustFall activists should not demoralise young people — and it will not. It should serve as their source of strength. It should make them rebel against the status quo. The mistreatment of the youth should give them a reason to fight. No jail time should derail us from attaining the society we envisage. No court cases, intimidation and humiliation should make us fear and doubt our path to victory. They can arrest us, brutalise us and suppress us but we know that the end will be glorious.
In January, I will be standing before the magistrate and receiving my sentence, clear that from now on anxiety is no more and stress has gone. I will take the sentence with my mind, body and soul intact. I make no retreat from our demands, the demands we are prosecuted for, so we reiterate that education must be free in terms of its content and in terms of its monetary value. Our curriculum must be decolonised. We want a people’s education for people’s power. We further say young people must, from grade RR, study for free until their first qualification in an institution of higher learning of their choice. No sentence, jail time or imprisonment will ever make me retreat from this call.
I call upon all young people to organise and continue to struggle and fight the good fight. Whatever happens to me next year should never make us doubt that we are on the good side of history. We must maintain our upright posture with our chests out, heads held high, our bodies filled with the adrenaline of the inevitable people’s victory and our unwavering commitment to a course.
Bonginkosi Khanyile is a #FeesMustFall activist who was found guilty on charges of public violence, possession of a dangerous weapon and failing to comply with police instruction.
Khanyile’s sentencing was postponed to January next year.