#FeesMustFall Reading List: 9 Important Reads on South Africa’s Student Protests

As a young journalist who was part of the #FeesMustFall youth movement, I take a look at some of the most important articles to surface since #FeesMustFall emerged in October 2016, in response to a proposed 10.5 percent in tuition fees. Below are nine reads that offer essential insight into the student-led movement.

Illustration by David ‘Slaying Goliath’ Tshabalala.

“Why #FeesMustFall: Cape Town students share their personal stories”

By Nwabisa Masiza, Babalwa Quma, Anam Joseph, Lucille Dyosi, Bulemko Gana Live Mag SA, 26 October 2015

I am one of the many students who are fighting for free education. I know the struggle. I have my reasons for joining the protest, and so do the University of Cape Town students highlighted in this Live Mag article from the start of the protests.


“#FeesMustFall: Police violence has no place in peaceful protests”

By Pierre De Vos Daily Maverick, 26 October 2015“

We live in a violent society. This is not surprising as violence was one of the main instruments through which the colonisers subjugated South Africa’s indigenous population,” writes De Vos in this reflection on the tactics used by the state in its handling of the student protests. It’s a statement that hits home to many black South Africans during apartheid, whose children are being treated in a similar manner 22 years into democracy.


“What #FeesMustFall teaches us about racism

By Pakama Ngceni Vanguard, 5 November 2015

Activist Pakama Ngceni discusses what the #FeesMustFall movement teaches us about racism in this insightful article for Vanguard Magazine.

“Racism in this country determines who has a voice, and who is otherwise constructed as the ‘angry black rabble.’ There is always the perception that protests led by only black activists are essentially violent, and this perception dehumanizes them,” writes Ngceni.


“Being a student in South Africa comes with so much frustration

By Lizeka Maduna The Daily Vox, 9 November 2015

Last November, The Daily Vox’s Lizeka Maduna spoke with former Durban University of Technology student, Sibongile Cele, who was financially excluded in her second year of studies. The resulting interview sheds unique insight into the motivations behind the #FeesMustFall movement and the need for change in our system. Cele’s story is the reality of thousands of young South Africans who are forced to drop out of university due to lack of funds.


“Understanding the Struggle Songs of Fees Must Fall”

By Tshireletso Mati Media for Justice, 2 February 2016

Media for Justice’s Tshireletso Mati offers readers the history behind some of South Africa’s most famous protest songs, such as “Solomon” and “Elilizwe lo khokho bethu, elilizwe la bantu aba mnyama,” and tips on sharpening your singing and pronunciation skills. It’s a great read that may even prove helpful next time you’re part of a protest.


“About 50 UWC students with no accommodation have been squatting in res lounges”

By Onele Liwani Live Mag SA, 3 March 2016

Tuition fees aren’t the only issue faced by South Africa’s student communities. Accommodation remains a challenge in universities across the country.


“Shaeera Kalla #FeesMustFall Interview

By Matthew Piper Student Investor, 25 April 2016

Former Wits SRC presidents Shaeera Kalla and Nompendulo Mkhatshwa emerged as the faces of the #FeesMustFall movement last October. In an interview with Destiny Magazine, Mkhatshwa said the #FeesMustFall movement was actually Kalla’s idea. Here, we get to know this courageous young woman.


“Here’s how we can achieve free higher education by 2019

By Ari Sitas The Daily Vox, 19 September 2016

In this eye-opening read, Professor Ari Sitas responds to some of the key questions about how free education can in fact be implemented by 2019.


“Free education is possible if South Africa moves beyond smoke and mirrors”

By Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Mondli Hlatswayo, Rasigan Maharajh, Zolisa Marawu. Mail & Guardian, 21 September 2016

Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande’s nonchalant response to the call for free education has been evident since day one. This article from Mail & Guardian looks closely at Nzimande’s lack of concern towards the realisation of free education. The authors also point to the fee commission’s shortcomings and accuse it of being sluggish and unfocused.


This article was originally published on OkayAfrica.