Accepted paper:

#Rhodesmust fall and #Fees must fall, beyond the hashtags


Judith Hayem (Université Lille 1/CLERSE)

Paper short abstract:

Since 2015, south african students are regularly on strike. They reject the colonial context at university and fees increase. They have use digital tools to get organized but demonstrations, occupations, etc. are used too, reflecting various and often conflicting conceptions of politics.

Paper long abstract:

Since 2015, south african campuses have been regularly blocked by students protesting against the colonial context at university, rejecting fees increases and even arguing for a free university. The movements hashtags: #Rhodes must fall and #Fees must fall which popularized them testify for the importance of digital tools in those mobilizations. Nevertheless, demonstrations, debates, occupations, memoranda have been used too. The mobilization also testified the creation of specific organizations on the grounds and the use of a specific theorization of politics such as black consciousness and reference to the French psychiatrist and activist Franz Fanon thinking have been common too. The paper will examine how those various ways of voicing their calls often reflect conflicting conceptions of politics amongst the students, showing the need to go beyond the hashtags in order to understand how south Africa youth intends to act in the public sphere. The paper is based on a careful review of media and existing literature on the south African students strikes as well as an exploratory research conducted in august 2016 with students of the university "currently known as Rhodes" in Grahamstown. Many of them belong to the Black Student Movement (BSM) which was created in 2015, during the strike. Their politics rely on fanonian and bikoist conceptions and they contest both the centrality of digital use in their mobilization and alternative uses of Biko's and Fanon's views in the movements.

panel P051
Youth-led leadership and participation in Africa