Privilege, freedom and the future
Students weighed in on whether the ANC will remain relevant in a South Africa that is getting increasingly younger, report by Ayanda Mgwenya and Morongoa Masebe.
Twenty-nine years on, young people feel alienated from the ruling party and think it’s time for change. This was the overwhelming sentiment at a dialogue hosted by Wits University’s Amnesty Society.
The privilege walk
The event hosted as part of Freedom Month celebrations saw the Wits outdoor ampitheatre transformed into a stage on which student’s varying levels of privilege was put to the test.
All attendees were instructed to stand in a horizontal line and asked a series of questions pertaining their geographical background, parental presence, financial status, race and more.
The attendees were asked questions about their experiences with skipping meals, worrying about school fees, and being the first in their family to graduate. Depending on these answers, students had to step forwards or backwards.
Mthobisi Thwala, Wits student said, “I thought more people would be in the frontline just like me, but this exercise has made me aware of the existence of dynamics around different geographical backgrounds.”
While performative, the exercise drives home the point about the very real implications of living in one of the most unequal countries in the world.
The dialogue session
The second part of the evening opened a dialogue with attendees. Deputy chairperson of Wits Amnesty, Florentine Vangu asked “Twenty- nine years on, should Nelson Mandela’s legacy be celebrated for the democratic and human rights change it brought to South Africa or should it be criticized for focusing too much on peace and reconciliation and not enough on addressing the historical impact of apartheid on the socio- economic status and problems still faced by black, coloured and Indian people today?”
Responses were mixed but most attendees expressed dissatisfaction over what they called the “negotiated settlement” and the lingering legacy of Apartheid in their everyday lives.
UNICEF chairperson of the Wits branch, Siphesihle Mkhwanazi told Wits Vuvuzela that youth-led conversations like this need to be “broadcast nationally because [citizens of South Africa] have to have uncomfortable conversations in order to have a feasible future”.
When Vungu asked, “to what extent do you agree or disagree that the ANC is no longer relatable to the everyday black South African”? Most of the students who responded, agreed with the statement.
Wits SRC Compliance Officer, Karabo Matloga was in awe of the discussion because he admires the gathering of active young people who “shape discussions and the narratives to change the state of the economy [in South Africa]”. The hope is that more engagements like this will take place ahead of the 2024 nation election.
FEATURED IMAGE: Attendees seated during the community dialogue. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya
- Wits Vuvuzela, Mixed feelings about World Press Freedom Day, May 2019
- Wits Vuvuzela, Pithouse challenges SA democracy, July 2016