How long are they gone lie to us,
And smile with us,
Acting like they’ll cry with us?
Our parents barely get a wage,
But they slave for this nation.
The black child will never ever gain emancipation.
Qualification in hand,
They grab the spoon from our hands.
So we shouldn’t be mad.
They control through the cash.
South African student, singer and activist Gigi Lamayne released her song, “Fees Will Fall,” the day she graduated from university. A popular South African hip-hop artist, Lamayne has come to the forefront of the #FeesMustFall movement, protesting the sharply rising university tuition in South Africa. Despite its hashtagged name, this movement is no mere armchair activism. Recently, students have taken to the streets in protest, sometimes violently clashing with police. An empty lecture hall was even set on fire as a strong message of the students’ dissatisfaction with the current system.
In South Africa, as in other countries, a university degree is becoming increasingly essential for young people entering the job market. Yet with rising fees, completing that degree has become difficult for all but the wealthiest classes. It seems paradoxical that young people and their families should be required to make so many sacrifices in order to succeed.
To promote “Fees Will Fall,” Lamayne released a powerful video cutting between footage of the singer and film from protests. The black and white cinematography lends an extra layer of tension and gravitas to what can be confidently labeled as a protest song. The block-lettered lyrics and sketched transitions evoke memories of school athletic teams and notebook doodles.
Afropop Worldwide covered “Fees Will Fall” and the #FeesMustFall movement as part of the “Born-Free South Africa: A Kaleidoscope of Colors” episode. We spoke with Gigi Lamayne further for the latest installment of our Afropop Closeups podcast series, “Fees Must Fall: A Voice of Change in South Africa.”