Every five years or so the university system responding to racism throws up a layer of articulate leaders. We saw this with the first generation post apartheid SASCO leaders. Even BCM student leaders like Sipho Maseko monetarised their student leadership credentials into becoming captains of industry.
We saw the Rhodes Must Fall/Fees Must Fall (RMF/FMF) leaders morph into either politicians who sat still in parliament or got absorbed into the capitalist system as managers and leaders.
Then the high school hair saga threw another layer up. This layer has transformed into consultants of transformation in the racist capitalist exploitative system. These reversals are monetarised partly due to a lack of revolutionary theory and movement and also the capacity of power to subsume into its belly the most talented spokespersons of the cause.
This circle shall repeat itself every 5 years untill a real revolutionary movement takes shape and directs the struggle relentlessly against white power. The 1976 student leader Khotso Seatlholo taught us that students can only spark the revolution but can’t sustain it. Hence the need for “student/worker soludarity”.
Steve Biko understood this limitation of student militancy hence SASO fought for the total liberation of blacks and not for student rights. The irony of students’ struggle is that it only opens the route to elite creation, more so managers of the system of oppression. We do well to remember why colonialism “educated” the native. It was to create managers of colonialism.
It became important to reflect in your CV that you were active in student struggles to get a job in white owned industry. It pays to lead students’ struggles but the system remains. Oppression is ancient and smart. It’s adaptable for survival. If you don’t believe me check where the RMF/FMF leaders are today.
Moments of reaction to racism outside a thoroughgoing revolutionary moment only consolidate the elite formation. That’s why we must continue to insist WE ARE BLACK BEFORE WE ARE STUDENTS.
Andile Mngxitama is the President of Black First Land First (BLF) a radical black consciousness organization. When using any of Black Opinion’s content, partly or in full, kindly always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.