South Africa: Marikana Memories - a Place of Hard Hearts, Cold Courage and Brutal Vengeance


Our student trip to Marikana did not turn out as expected. We found a shattered community, gripped by anger, suspicion and vengeance. A place where you could lose your head.

During the last days of the #FeesMustFall movement at the end of 2016, when the tenacity of the students had faltered and many had grown disillusioned at the prospects of achieving decommodified and decolonised education after being met with the iron-handed brutality of the police and an indifferent university management, a group of students decided to make one final push of activism by visiting the community of Marikana.

At that time it had been four years since 34 rock drillers at the Lonmin mine in Marikana were gunned down by police while fighting for a basic monthly wage of R12,500. For these students, the massacre - which formed part of debates at campuses across the country and was taught in their classes - had angered and inspired them.

"A taxi has been organised going to Marikana, bring a blanket and pillow," read a text message from one of the group chats of the student body, the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (Pasma). When I saw the text, I jumped...

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