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Culture, Reality
Equal Education March

Every Generation has its Struggle

by Montle Moorosi and Rob Cockcroft, images Sydelle Willow Smith / 29.03.2011

Last Saturday 20 000 learners, mainly from Khayelitsha, gathered at the Grand Parade to watch DJ Oskido and Freshlyground perform. They were decked out in school uniforms; some of them pimped them out with the addition of fitted hats and wayfarers, turned up collars and school ties fashioned as bow ties. No, this was not Mzansi’s version of the Freaknik. It was Human Rights’ Day and this was the meeting place for a march to parliament organised by Khayelitsha-based NGO Equal Education (EE).

Montle: Children don’t read Marx, so they need Melrose cheese and Oskido to get their revolution on and roll out the big black fist. Meanwhile Freshlyground isn’t exactly the kind of music that you mix molotov cocktails to. Let’s doo-be-doo like they did in Cairo.

Rob: The organisation is campaigning for Minimum Norms and Standards to be implemented by 1 April. This will stipulate the basic infrastructure that all schools should have to operate with. Scary enough some of these are as basic as libraries, laboratories and toilets. EE’s march set out to put pressure on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to uphold her promise and to aid in developing the policy.

Equal Education March

Montle: Half of the Grand Parade has been cordoned off for the monumental event and by noon it’s filled to capacity, I march through the human-barricade at the gates with an air of importance, while pointing to the stage and saying to no one in particular that I’m EE staff.

It has been over 8 years since I got involved with anything political or engaged in communist rants since my quasi rasta pacifist art fag days in UCT. Now Moorosi’s back with a brain full of last night’s fights, last night’s grenades, still hard to love, maybe even harder. War is hell. Funnily, as I was thinking this, some kids who looked like men with earrings started to tussle, one got floored and swarmed by a group of boys in some rag tag uniforms. Hard to love. War is hell. But boys will be boys. Being there in the hot sun, in a sea of colourful young people, with my brain still buzzing, I was overwhelmed by a strange conviction or rather a little bit of self pride for toyi-toying and dancing with the rest of the merry massive.

Rob: I wrestle my way through the crowd of youths who can only be described as rambunctious. There’s a lot of “on-on” games to dodge and the danger of being pelted with water-packets, which may not be such a bad thing as it’s 35 degrees. Sweat pours, misting up my shades as I abjectly search for shade. And all I could find was Montle Moorosi dressed in denim cut off shorts, and equal education t-shirt, an RVCA cap and a sweaty but handsome puza face.

Equal Education March

Montle: I saw Rob looking like a disheveled cucumber, the green sweat of Guiness and lager from the past week was swimming out his pores, the old siff journalist with his Bondiblu sunglasses which wrap around his thick beautiful Irish head. I gave him a pound.
“Aweh Rob!”
“Sup niggy?”
“Chillin… I almost just slapped some fucken kid who threw a water packet in my face, but I couldn’t exactly hit a child, and he kinda looked liked he’d fuck me up.”

Rob: I spotted my salvation, shade, over at the press tent, which I make my way towards but it’s a mirage. I’m saved slightly, though, as I have some breathing room and sanctity next to the stage behind the metal fencing.

Dj Oskido steps up in grey trackpants and a red faded golf shirt, looking like he’s just been watching movies on the couch with a bucket of KFC chicken, and captures the crowd instantaneously. The ball-raising exhiliration of 20 000 schoolkids pushing up against the railing has me jamming unashamedly to the hypnotic house beats without a drop of alchohol in me. Oskido’s crowd is too hyper for his chilled demeanor and he warns the young’uns to simmer down. Shortly, we see a piccanin being rushed to receive medical care for a sprained ankle.

Equal Education March

Montle: Next up was Freshlyground. I was surprised to see that the kids were actually into midget violin soul. Well, me and Rob aren’t so we decided to get a chip roll at Texies and walk off to to Parliament ahead of the march. We sat in silence as we shared the tiny chip roll, wishing we had just grabbed one of the free lunch packs EE were giving out to the learners. We finshed our date and headed for Parliament.

Rob: By the time we got there the crowd had regrouped and the atmosphere was slightly chilled, brandishing placards which read things like “My education, my future”, “Rich or poor we all need equality”, “Sports fields are needed” and “Minister Motshekga keep you promise make us happy”. But when it came time to handover the memorandum, this peaceful protest almost turned into a full-blown riot. Angie Motshekga pulled a Samuel Beckett and instead sent a Godot representative, Ingane Ngobeni, Chief of Staff for the Minister, who accepted the memorandum on her behalf. And was immediatelty booed off the stage and had a piece of bunched up newspaper thrown at him. The kids were pissed, but the organisers did a great a job to quell the tension.

“Young people in the province showed today that they have an interest in their education. They came in numbers and wanted their voices to be heard, but were disappointed that the minister didn’t show up because they wanted their elected representative to address them, not the chief of staff,” said Yoliswa Dwane, Head of Policy and Resources at EE.

Rob: They sang and toyi toyied all they way from Roeland street back to Cape Town station to catch a free ride home. And like that, it was over.

Equal Education March

Equal Education March

Equal Education March

Equal Education March

Equal Education March

*All images © Sydelle Willow Smith.

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RESPONSES (21)
  1. Anonymous says:

    fuck freshlyground and their branded rainbow nation access rock.

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  2. Herman Lategan says:

    I love this story and pics. Love it.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    fuck freshlyground? what has that got to do with equal education. cynics, hey, cant please em. haters should be burnt alive.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Nice photos, Shit perspective, bad writing.

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  5. bilobab says:

    There is no excuse to ever use the word ‘rambunctious’.

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  6. Andy says:

    Anonymous… get your head out your ass. You just calling names like a playground thug. Where’s the bad writing exactly? This shit is fresh

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  7. Montle Mooroshitty says:

    SO SORRY THIS WASNT ALL ABOUT RAPE…GO FUCK YOURSELF

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  8. Max says:

    yes, distinct lack of rape…tut tut, gentlemen. otherwise good stuff, like the back and forth between the two writers. didn’t work so well in the other article, so don’t get comfortable with this style, mr davis.

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  9. 1D10t says:

    i have to agree..freshly ground stink. their banal music smacks of post apartheid false rainbow nation sentiment. they are in no way making music that the youth feel connected to. they should stick to corporate events, and the midget with the violin should stick to skydiving without a parachute.

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  10. syd willow says:

    Hello.
    I feel, i must comment on this article as I provided the pictures. I attended the event as I believe in what Equal Education are doing. A grassroots movement looking to affect change in the South African education system that is having major issues at the moment. The midget with the violin is my sister, so I am just going to ignore that 1D10t remark, as we are the same height, and if death becomes her, it becomes me too.

    Mahala, you do tend to like to take a cynical take on things… this much is true.
    From an outsider, who attended , who doesnt know too much about the inner workings of the organisation – all I am going to say is, the kids loved Oskido and Freshly, they jived and hopped and sweated in their ghastly winter school uniforms. The atmosphere was great, and I was happy to be there.

    Thats all.
    love the midget with the camera.

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  11. Andy says:

    1D10T has claimed the post of number idiot on this thread. But he succinctly encapsulates a lot of the backlash floating around for Freshlyground’s continued success – as can be seen. But as the editor, I agonised over the “midget violin soul” comment in the article, being friends with both Smith sisters and Zolani Mahola – who are all a little on the short side. However my personal relationships shouldn’t censor the views of the writer. Eventually deferring to the fact that this is Montle’s opinion, and we respect his right to say cruel, snide and idiotic things in the process of making his point… and trying to be funny.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    its not funny.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    This article may have made some people laugh, but it sure as hell undermined the work that EE does and belittled the attitudes of the learners who came to participate. Of course they booed the head of staff (although it was in NO way almost a ‘full-blown riot’). Obviously booing is not ideal, but when your constitution ensures your basic right to an education and you spend every day in a classroom with no windows, books or even teachers, I have a hunch that you would boo too.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    The ‘freshlyground suck’ comment is about as relevant as any comment saying ‘Hey, nice pictures!’

    Burn all cynics? Cynics are essential.

    In fact, the whole argument you made in support of the cause and organisation which was probably founded by the actions of someone in a cynical position of the current status quo completely contradicts your claim that all cynics should burn.

    I guess it’s good whats good for the goose only matters when its good for the gander, right?
    Expect revolution but only when it’s for your personal ideals?

    I think it’s pretty telling that the corporate function super-band was used to try connect to the grassroots youth of SA, when really, their target market is the white suburban housewife.

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  15. Rob c says:

    Anonymous. Were you at the march? You are right, though, at no point was it a full-blown riot. The meaning of that sentence did change after it was edited. But i dont see how ee was undermined. The mention of booing was not to sully ee’s name but precisely to show the frustration of the kids for all the reasons you have listed

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  16. Rob c says:

    Anonymous. You are right, at no point was it a full-blown riot. The meaning of that sentence did change after it was edited. But i dont see how ee was undermined. The mention of booing was not to sully ee’s name but precisely to show the frustration of the kids for all the reasons you have listed

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  17. Anonymous says:

    K maybe I’m being a bit sensitive in saying it undermined EE’s work, but I do think that it made the kids out to be more raucous than they were. Yeah, I was there. It was fantastic.

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  18. rob c says:

    the booing actually happened. that’s not to say the kids were acting like a bunch of hooligans. i wrote about it to show how disappointed they were that Angie Motshekga never showed up to accept the memorandum. that’s justifiable in my books.

    Also, I did dodge some flying water packets. The kids were just having fun with them, that’s all.

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  19. Kontlap says:

    Yeses ppl are touchy touchy in the comments section – Anonymouseseses, if u dnt have anything constructive to say – hou jou fokken bekkkkkkkkkk! Gr8 article bois! Oskido khuza okhuzekayo!!!!!

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  20. youknowwho says:

    Good to see Montle back – and in form.

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  21. Buchu says:

    EE are doing amazing work.
    I heard a young school kid from EE speak at an event once, he said
    “Just because I’m poor, doesn’t mean my education has to be poor.”
    TRUE DAT!
    Great pics, article lacking somewhat!

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