“The brawl lasted for hours”

“You don’t know what you want! You don’t know what you want! I gave you my hand, I gave you my arm, and I gave you my breasts! You don’t know what you want!” These words were translated from the Xhosa song that was sung endlessly. These words sent vibrations through my very being when I heard them while I was comfortably laying in my bed.

I knew that something was wrong, that people were unhappy because they had resorted to this form of protest. The form of protest that many detest, that many believe can be avoided, the protest that requires one to literally put their bodies on the line, the protest that makes you vulnerable. This sort of protest, this public display of one’s anger, of one’s inability to be heard by the very institutions that should be protecting us, this protest is never the first option or people’s first resort.

People will refer to the evening of the #RUReferencelist protest as a brawl but what it really was, was an active display of anger, it was people yearning to be heard, it was people realising that they are not in control of their own bodies. The very same people whom had their rights to human dignity stripped away from them had to muster up the courage and confront the people who had hurt them beyond measure and beyond what words can describe. They had to display their pain for hours while staring their perpetrators in their eyes and hold back their tears.

Many viewed that evening as a violation to the perpetrators’ rights, as unconstitutional, as not adhering to the university’s code of conduct, as unplanned. But only a few will refer to that day as a day they had to  open wounds they had put a bandage on, a day where their memories taunted them, a day where the hours they had spent removing perpetrators from their rooms in their residences , was nothing compared to the 20 minutes they were assaulted. The hours that the brawl lasted was the time where they had regained some of their power, it was the moment when some started healing, it was the moment where a few realised that they were never alone, that they never will be alone.


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