Syndicated from OkayAfrica
It's currently graduation season in South Africa and social media is flooded with hundreds of posts of excited graduates finally getting their degrees and diplomas. Now, graduation is a pretty big deal for everyone but for Black South Africans especially, it matters that much more.
I remember my first graduation ceremony. My heels were uncomfortable, my earrings were weighing my earlobes down and I was sure my dress emphasized every cellulite bump that I had. But I was extremely excited. I was the first in my family to ever graduate from university and that moment was not just about me but my entire family and for my father, who'd passed away in my first year of university.
This is what the young White student sitting beside me did not understand. As Black parents ululated, danced, yelled out their clan names and praised the achievements of even the Black children who were not their own, all this young man could say to me in great annoyance was, "They're making so much noise."
As the 2016 student movement Fees Must Fall highlighted, Black South Africans face tremendous challenges when it comes to accessing tertiary education and largely because they're poor. When they do try and access funding, they're apparently not poor enough. In a country where the majority is still living in dehumanizing and impoverished circumstances, graduating at an institution that historically, wasn't meant to ever welcome you, is a fucking achievement.
And yet, some of these institutions bar Black graduates and their families, especially, from celebrating the achievement in the ways that Black people know how to celebrate. Instead, they are continuously reminded in the weeks before the graduation ceremony of the many ways they need to tone down their Blackness and act in a manner that is filled with the "utmost decorum".
The gag is, you don't get to tell Africans at African institutions how not to celebrate. If they don't dance and sing at Harvard or Oxford, that's fine, but we sure as hell do that shit here.
Theses videos showing Black South Africans doing the absolute most as they graduate will give you life. And if they don't and instead you're pissed that the "dignity" of the proceedings has somehow been tarnished, I can assure you, the problem is you.