‘RE­SIST OP­PRES­SION’

In this six-part se­ries, pro­files lead­ers who are head­ing the his­toric up­ris­ing of stu­dents na­tion­wide. This week, the spotlight falls on Busi Se­abe

CityPress - - Voices -

The elec­tion of Bu­sisiwe Se­abe (22) to rep­re­sent stu­dents as part of a #FeesMustFall del­e­ga­tion sent to ne­go­ti­ate with the lead­er­ship of the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand (Wits) was an un­usual way of recog­nis­ing her lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

It was un­usual be­cause the #FeesMustFall move­ment doesn’t usu­ally have for­mally reg­is­tered mem­bers or elected lead­ers.

The de­ci­sion to elect Se­abe was there­fore a ges­ture of ac­knowl­edg­ment for the work she has been do­ing in the back­ground of the move­ment since 2015.

“I think my as­cen­sion into the move­ment is one that is in its most or­ganic form. Stu­dents on the ground put me for­ward and said, ‘We un­der­stand that an SRC [Stu­dents’ Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil] rep­re­sen­ta­tive will be there, but we want you and we trust you.’ For me, that was a great hon­our,” said Se­abe.

Se­abe is part of a group of stu­dents from uni­ver­si­ties through­out the coun­try who have been at the fore­front of calls for free, de­colonised ed­u­ca­tion at in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing, con­test­ing the of­ten in­ac­cu­rate nar­ra­tive that male stu­dents are lead­ing the rev­o­lu­tion.

“We did not play the role of the mothers of the rev­o­lu­tion. We were not there to feed peo­ple and clothe them, or lick their wounds and ban­dage them.

“We were there to lead as we have been in­structed by the masses,” she said.

The most pro­nounced case of fe­male stu­dents lead­ing the #FeesMustFall move­ment was at Wits.

The univer­sity has, in the past two years, set it­self apart as an in­sti­tu­tion where black, fe­male lead­ers can de­velop and strengthen their lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

“Women have played a vi­tal and piv­otal role in the move­ment. We were the ones get­ting shot when they [male stu­dents] were in other places at­tend­ing meet­ings. Even when we were hos­pi­talised, we still main­tained con­tact with [those on] the ground,” said Se­abe.

As part of her ac­tivism through the #FeesMustFall protest, Se­abe was ar­rested on five oc­ca­sions last year: for run­ning on to a soc­cer pitch when Bid­vest Wits was play­ing Kaizer Chiefs, for con­tra­ven­ing a court in­ter­dict and for protest­ing il­le­gally, among other charges.

Se­abe has com­pleted a Bach­e­lor of Arts and is about to start an hon­ours de­gree in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence and African lit­er­a­ture.

Th­ese cour­ses were not her first choice, just as Wits was not her first choice. She wanted to study at ei­ther the Univer­sity of Cape Town or Rhodes Univer­sity, but her mother wanted her to re­main in Jo­han­nes­burg.

“When I got to Wits, I was ex­cited in the begin­ning, even though it wasn’t my first or even my sec­ond pref­er­ence,” said Se­abe.

“I was ex­cited to go to univer­sity be­cause I had been taught that – once I had a univer­sity de­gree – the world would be my oys­ter and I could be­come whomever I wanted to be.”

Her sec­ond lec­ture at Wits paved the way for her to join the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters’ Stu­dents’ Com­mand and the #FeesMustFall move­ment.

“When I started en­gag­ing with the ma­te­rial in my lec­ture and with the lec­turer, I could sense the dis­ap­proval from my white coun­ter­parts,” said Se­abe.

“This is when I started to un­der­stand that I may be at Wits, but I es­sen­tially didn’t be­long there. That day, I started notic­ing the racial di­vide at the univer­sity.”

Her first love re­mains medicine – neu­ro­surgery, to be pre­cise. Her mis­sion is to draw on less for­mal forms of knowl­edge to heal pa­tients.

“My per­sonal dream, as an in­di­vid­ual, out­side my con­scious­ness, out­side the black rev­o­lu­tion, is to be one of the best neu­ro­sur­geons on the African con­ti­nent,” said Se­abe.

“I am in­ter­ested in find­ing out how tra­di­tional forms of heal­ing can as­sist and be in­cor­po­rated in the health sci­ences fac­ulty.”

For now, help­ing other stu­dents through the #FeesMustFall move­ment re­mains her main pri­or­ity.

“Where there is op­pres­sion, there must be re­sis­tance.

“As the #FeesMustFall move­ment, our mis­sion is to con­tinue to ag­i­tate, to con­tinue to [ap­ply] pres­sure and to con­tinue to fight,” said Se­abe.

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

YOUTH POWER Busi Se­abe of the Wits #FeesMustFall move­ment

PHOTO: AP

Oc­tavia Spencer, Taraji P Hen­son and Janelle Monae pose with their awards af­ter Hid­den Fig­ures won in the out­stand­ing per­for­mance by a cast cat­e­gory at the 23rd an­nual Screen Actors Guild Awards last month

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