Photographer and visual activist Imraan Christian posted a thought-provoking image on social media that illustrates how universities have become the graveyards where the dreams of black students go to die.
The image, entitled Death of a Dream, shows a black female student dressed in an academic gown, on her knees, presumably on the steps of the University of Cape Town. What is most chilling is the bullet hole in her head, courtesy of a masked gunman standing a few steps behind her.
Christian posted the photograph as a clarion call for conversation, and within three hours of it being posted, it had elicited strong responses.
#DEATHOFADREAM will mean many different things to many different people, all of which are valid.
A rainbow is momentary illusion, destined to fade, and reveal that which was always there.
#deathofadream, for me, is a call to analyse, not act. To introspect, and not debate. To feel, and not jump to a conclusion.
We are at a critical point in our history, and without a true conversation with ourselves, and each other, the flames at our doorstep might just engulf the entire house.
Are you ready to kill us?
Are we ready to die?
we, As a South African community, have normalised an absurd sustained violence and brutality against student protestors, by not critically engaging with the greater historical significance of decisions made by University Managements which are enforced by SAPS, and now private security.
We, somehow, understand the burning of buildings by protestors as an intention to destroy, rather than understanding the reaction to a continuous merciless and inescapable violence against black bodies. This narrative now focusses on the violent protest action as a disease instigated by criminals, so that you can forget that these are actually your children, fighting for free socialistic education, and the rights of workers.
it is time to account for the fact that Blade Nzimande ignored a report that outlined a plan for a free socialistic education almost 5 years ago, and the fact has been almost completely deaf to the true issues being brought to the surface by the students.
it is time to account for the numerous cases of police brutality, and the sadistic nature by which SAPS have used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse crowds, often hunting innocent protestors as if this has become some kind of sick sport. Those who have had to experience this will surely tell of a sickening feeling of being dehumanised by the people who are supposed to maintain order – who protects us from you?
We, as students, are now engaged in a form of protest fundamentally revolving around violent actions because our media has made it very clear that it will not report on issues unless it is bleeding. As individuals, and as a collective, we must define our positions and intentions within the movement, and once again critically analyse the landscape where we act on those intentions. University Managements and armed forces (Police and Private security) have expressly stated they “will do whatever it takes” to shut down “violent protests”. They of course express this sentiment without taking any responsibility for the daily violence their systemic structures exacts on black bodies, and the physical warfare that we see at campuses such as #UFS #NWU and #UWC. Alternative forms of protest and disseminating information must be discussed because this once again begs the question:
are you ready to kill us?
are we ready to die?
On the issue of whiteness- the force that fuels hatred, is the same force that fuels radical black love. Whichever one we feed will grow, but to be trapped by hatred is to lose the battle of our knowledge of self and self-love because whiteness covertly operates within all of us, and forms a part of ourself we cannot reconcile.
My heart breaks because these students who are being painted as vandals, criminals or radicals, are the only ones brave enough to look at our perverted history and manifest their truth. The painful irony is that these are the leaders our country need, but we are not ready for truth, so we sit back and watch as they are sent to the slaughter.