#FeesMustFall Campaign put on a street production outside The Great Hall during graduation week.
While family and friends waited to congratulate graduates; a group of students, dressed in black with shackles and chains around them, emerged from the Great Hall. The crowd watched in suspense as a play unfolded, describing the hardships certain students face on their path to attaining a degree.
The performance started with a group of chained, black females trying to reach a graduate cap, which represented tertiary education. Those who managed to pass the cap then struggled towards a gate with a dean behind it, signifying a degree. While they were struggling, black men started to make their way to the gateway, finding it easier than their female counterparts but ultimately not reaching it. It ended with a white male walking passed all the other students and getting his degree without any hardships.
Thenjiwe Mswane, director of the play, says the performance was used to show the gate keeping of academia from black bodies, especially those who are queer or disabled. She says “people are tired of listening. People aren’t hearing us, so I thought it better to show people how much pain the commodification of education causes”.
The play is an extension of the #FeesMustFall campaign which began at Wits last October. Students involved seek to build on last year’s momentum and reduce the financial, racial and class barriers to accessing university education.
Below are pictures of the production.
All photos were taken by Leanne Cumming