Big acts not enough to get Witsies out of Wits.

FIERCE POETRY: Poet Lebogang Mashile spoke out against Israeli apartheid at the IAW concert on Friday. Photo: Michelle Gumede

FIERCE POETRY: Poet Lebo Mashile spoke out against Israeli apartheid at the IAW concert on Friday. Photo: ichelle Gumede

 By Katleho Sekhotho

Four big artists and free transport were not enough to get Wits students out to Bassline for a free concert, according to organisers.

A bus had been provided for the concert on Friday, the last event of Israel Apartheid Week, but then cancelled because of the low turnout, said Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee chairperson Shaeera Kalla.

Lebo Mashile, Tumi Molekane, Reason and Jr who were the acts for the evening, performed to a half-filled space at a free event.

The low turnout is in contrast to a comedy show held the day before at the Great Hall, which was filled to capacity, with some students being turned away.

Bassline has a capacity of up to to 1200 people. Less than 500 people were there, according to Bassline organiser Fattz Kgomo.

Kgomo said that despite the poor attendance, the night was still a huge success.

Tumi Molekane, popularly known for being part of Tumi and The Volume, told Wits Vuvuzela the event was a success: “They were loud you know, they were responsive … I think what I wanted to say to them, I think I said.”

Poet Lebo Mashile also received a warm welcome and told Wits Vuvuzela she participated in the concert because she’s ‘always been politically minded’.

Boycott Divestment Sanctions spokesperson Kamo Nakedi said organisers would work harder to promote future events.

“It will grow … It was the first time,” said Nakedi. “We can always do better.”

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Nearly R2-million raised in 1Million1Month campaign

The Wits SRC have raised R1, 7 million after Wits chancellor Dikgang Moseneke and ten of his friends donated R50 000 each at the “One million, One month” launch earlier today.

The “One million, One month” campaign was officially launched by the Wits Student Representatives Council (SRC) at the Great Hall today even though the campaign reached its initial target of R1-million last Friday. The SRC was joined by the campaign’s ambassadors whose contributions today saw the total amount rise to R1,7 million.

Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, one of the ambassadors, donated R50 000 and arranged for ten of his friends to match his contribution.

“I have phoned a number of my friends and I said to them I will make a commitment on my feet today … and at least 10 of them said they will match me”, Moseneke said.

“One of my friends was moved by young comrades thinking in a very revolutionary way. They have a deep grievance but they find a positive way to address it”, Moseneke added.

Wits vice-chancellor, Professor Adam Habib, said he hopes that the campaign raises one or two million more.

“I will not lie to you. We are hoping to make R2 or 3 million … I will not have enough money to fund all students,” Habib said.

Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini pointed out that he was no longer talking to the Department of Higher Education (DHE), about the problem but he refuses to see 2788 students go back home.

“One of my friends was moved by young comrades thinking in a very revolutionary way. They have a deep grievance but they find a positive way to address it”

“Our wish is to take all 2788 students to class because that is the future of the nation. I can’t lose 2788 students, I cannot,” Dlamini said.

LEGACY: Advocate George Bizos, attended the Wits SRC's One Million, One Month launch at the Wits Great Hall. The Human Rights Lawyer is best known for representing Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia Trial. Photo: Tendai Dube

LEGACY: Advocate George Bizos, attended the Wits SRC’s One Million, One Month launch at the Wits Great Hall. Photo: Tendai Dube

Advocate George Bizos, who was the first official ambassador of the campaign, shared a moving story of a young woman he knew who struggled financially and recalled his promise to “never let anyone in [his] generation go through the same thing”.

Mpendulo Nkosi, a first year civil engineering student from rural KZN spoke of his difficulties in securing accommodation and funding for his studies at Wits. He was later surprised by the announcement that he was to be fully funded by a donor, the Thusanani Foundation, a youth-led non- profit organisation.

Nkosi said, “I am really thankful, they have done great for me and my family.”

“I am really thankful, they have done great for me and my family”. 

Another significant donation was that of R100 000 from the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF).

Amongst the ambassadors who joined Bizos and Moseneke on stage was poet Lebo Mashile, and singer, Thandiswa Mazwai, both of whom congratulated Wits and the student leadership for their positive reaction to the funding crisis.