There is an urgent need for us to change the way that we speak about decolonisation.
More than anything we have to realise and be conscious of the fact that decolonisation is a gendered issue.
Now I know that earlier this year Vuyani Pambo addressed the concerns of lgbt+ students calling for inclusiveness at protests.
However, that negates the existence of concerns regarding the movement and ideology separate from protest action.
Whether or not there is a space for women and the lgbt+ community at the PHYSICAL protests, there is still reason for concern around whether or not there is a space for women and the LGBT+ community in the dialogue around FMF and particularly decolonised education.
The discourse around decolonised education is too often a masculine one. Femininity is ignored.
We have seen comrades berate the topless wits protestors for issues concerning modesty. I fail to understand how anybody can claim that they support the prospect of decolonising the mind, and then go right ahead and shame topless female protestors even though we know that in pre-colonial spaces breasts were not sexualized in that manner and often women went topless.
Furthermore, how can anyone claim to have the issues of black women at heart, then turn around to scream out their support for Skhumba and his body shaming tactics. As though a mans freedom of speech is more important than the voices and opinions of female protestors, whom he actively chose to reduce to mere bodily parts rather than viewing them as whole people, with real existences and important messages.
There is an obvious hypocrisy here.
A decolonised society would also need to be a more gender equal one. There cannot be one without the other. A society which liberates men but not women, is not yet a liberated society.
Its almost as though , in engineering the definition and redefinition of “decolonisation” that we aim ,with decolonisation, to drop all the parts of colonialism which impact negativly on men but we want to retain patriarchy and sytematic power over women which came with colonialsm.
The discourse around decolonisation is starting to sound a lot like aims to replace oppressive white men with oppressive black men.
For example, when we choose to celebrate African leaders why do we glorify people like Solomon Mahlangu, Robert Sobukwe and Frantz Fanon rather than people like Winnie Mandela and Albertina Sisulu?
The decolonisation discourse celebrates only the masculine attributes of Africanness. Which by default means that it refuses to embrace Africanness as a whole or what it means to be African without colonial impact.
Surely, women were effected by colonialsm in ways that men were not. Therefore, for us to unlearn colonialism, we need to also unlearn the sexism and misogyny which Europeans brought with them when they docked at the Cape.
Women often have a harder time at protests. We are more often attacked, more often asked to make sacrifices, more often blamed when things go wrong (See Nompendulo Mkhatshwa), more likely to be raped, harassed or intimidated by private security and police, more often ignored by the media and more often excluded.
The movement comes at the expense of female comrades bodies being put on the front line and yet women are excluded from its percieved outcome.
We know there is no such thing as decolonisation unless we are all sharing in the fruits of success, and yet we are still not making a space for the discourse of women’s issues in our hopes of a decolonised education.
If this decolonised education that is being sold is not intersectional than I don’t want it.
Female comrades need to stop being complicit in our own oppression.
We need to start being conscious protestors, critical of our own movement to ensure that it does not become derailed by our own prejudices and unconscious biases.