During youth month, SAEP’s Bridging Year students watched a documentary based on the 1976 Soweto Uprising during their critical thinking workshops. Many of the students were not fully aware of what had taken place, and rather viewed the day as “just another holiday”. But after watching the documentary and engaging in eye-opening discussions, things were put into perspective.

The discussions were not only around the 1976 student protests. In an attempt to make it relevant to the BY students, we looked at the similarities and differences of this generation’s university protests.  As an extension of this topic the students had the opportunity to go to the Baxter Theatre to watch a show called The Fall, which was an amazing depiction of what had been discussed in class. The Fall is a production based on students’ different experiences during the #FeesMustFall, #Shackville and #RhodesMustFall movements of 2015 and 2016. The play seeks to address the different forms of discrimination faced by tertiary students and inequality in the education system of our country.

The BY students welcomed the experience and many of them were excited to be inside a theater for the first time. They walked out with a different perspective of the Soweto Uprising and a better understanding of the recent student protests – and of their positions within a changing and uncertain South Africa. Considering the circumstances of tertiary institutions in the country, it was most relevant that our Bridging Year learners gain a better understanding of where their future lies.

“I guess hearing how “The Fall” movements came about makes me think twice; I now take back some of the things I said. I am more informed now.” Samkelo Mndindi.

The opportunity given to these students was a great way to get them to listen and formulate different opinions about these protests and their contexts. Moreover, they were able to see how these protests, years apart as they are, play a role in their present and future.