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The "Decriminalisation" of the #FeesMustFall Movement in South Africa: An Asantean Perspective

Kgothatso Brucely Shai, Rachidi Richard Molapo


During the struggle against colonialism and apartheid in South Africa and Africa, the liberation pioneers promised all citizens access to decent education. The premise was that the education the colonial authorities made available to Africans was poor compared to that of white people. What was more, only some middle-class Africans were given access to higher education. The initiation of the protest movement #FeesMustFall in 2015 seemed to mark a crossroads in South Africa in terms of opening the doors of learning to all. However, some scholars and politicians argue that the country’s higher education sector is still untransformed and inaccessible to most people. Still others argue that the #FeesMustFall movement’s call for aggressive transformation of higher education has been hijacked by a “third force” to undermine the Government. In this article we critique the competing perspectives of the ongoing public discourse on the #FeesMustFall movement based on interdisciplinary critical discourse and Afrocentric theory in order to gain a nuanced but critical understanding of this movement and its implications for the future. Notwithstanding the reservations about some of the bad elements of the modus operandi of the fallist movement, our major finding, as reported on in this article, was that the demand for quality and free higher education in South Africa was reasonable. Nevertheless, a decision to meet this demand might not be economically sound in respect of the immediate future.


Afrocentricity; decriminalisation; #FeesMustFall; higher education; imperialism; #RhodesMustFall; transformation

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