Constructing Solidarities for a Humane Urbanism

The Power in Popular Education

Reflecting on Pathways to Free Education, the South African student activist Brian Kamanzi stresses the need for bridge building beyond the boundaries of universities to construct solidarities with workers’ and housing movement activists. The Pathways to Free Education collective emerged out of the student-worker uprising in 2015-17 in Cape Town. The uprising raised demands such as reparations, living wage, free education, and changes in curriculum. In the post-apartheid period, the student-worker uprising was the first time that building occupation was used as a method. Here public education buildings were occupied to hold public meetings about how government must move forward. These occupations disrupted the spatial politics of post-apartheid South Africa where universities are designed to be profit-making ivory towers that exclude particular knowledges.
The #FeesMustFall uprising, Kamanzi points out, built on at least two decades of earlier activist groundwork across various social movements. Sit-ins and teach-ins played with the tension between political meetings (mobilization with an explicit goal) and education spaces (free exchange of ideas without necessary action) and moved from one phase to another. As the government crackdown repressed the movement and shut down buildings, Pathways to Free Education emerged to continue the movement conversations in public spaces outside the university. An important thrust for Pathways to Free Education is to move past anti-apartheid discussions and develop a sense of position with reference to other struggles around the world. Solidarity, in this mode, emerges as continuation of a local struggle and building epistemic relations with other movements in the world.

Reading Suggestions

Pathways to Free Education Pamphlet Volume 1
Pathways to Free Education Pamphlet Volume 2
Pathways to Free Education Pamphlet Volume 3

Kamanzi, Brian. (3 Nov, 2016). #FeesMustFall: Decolonising Education. Al Jazeera. Retrieved from

Kamanzi, Brian. (15 Sep, 2017). Must Fall. The New Inquiry. Retrieved from

Kamanzi, Brian. (28 Sep, 2017). Graduate Student Unions Have a Role to Play in the Battle to Decolonise Universities. The Daily Vox. Retrieved from

Kamanzi, Brian. (5 Feb, 2017). 2017: A Decisive Year for #FeesMustFall. The Daily Vox. Retrieved from

Kamanzi, Brian. (14 Feb, 2017). Icarus and the Student Movement. The Daily Vox. Retrieved from

Kamanzi, Brian. (29 Mar, 2015). “Rhodes Must Fall”—Decolonisation Symbolism—What is Happening at UCT, South Africa? The Postcolonialist. Retrieved from

Kamanzi, Brian. (n.d.) Decolonising the Curriculum: The Silent War for Tomorrow. Daily Maverick. Retreived from

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