On 21 June 2017, winners of the CLS Blogspot competition attended a performance of The Fall. One of the winners, reflects on the play and what it meant to her.
*Kagiso A. Maphalle
The Fall is a play about the Rhodes Must Fall movement which erupted at the University of Cape Town in 2015. Central to the movement was the issue of decolonisation, especially of the content of the curriculum, outsourcing of workers, paintings and statues which represent a colonial past riddled with pain and disempowerment, and the critical issue of fees at tertiary institutions.
The play is engaging to the audience on so many different levels. It forces one to question their place in society and the contributions that are being made for the advancement of black people in South Africa. As a customary law student, I understood completely the frustrations of students and the issues which were raised in the play. I discover on a daily basis how distorted the history of African people has become, and it is mainly because of who wrote and told the stories, and the agenda that they sought to push about black people.
As a black woman, the frustrations and persecutions of black women in South Africa are something I am very familiar with. I grew up watching family members go through them, and in my naïve young mind I thought that by the time I became an adult, a lot would have changed. What a shock it was for me to arrive at Adult Avenue and find that actually, things are very much the same, if not worse! At the end of the play, I was convinced in my heart that a lot still needs to be done to change the narrative of the story of black people. I left there knowing that the fact that I made it out of the township I grew up in, and managed to acquire the levels of education and work experience I have, must definitely count for something. When the actors bowed, they were saying to me, now your part begins. This is where you take the baton and run with it. This is where you take over the storytelling, and narrate a different story. This is your time to make a difference.
The Fall re-ignited my passion to change the narrative of the lives of South African women. It reminded me that my contribution to the field of customary law is both necessary and relevant. It gave me the much needed confirmation that I am on the correct career path. Most importantly, it reminded me of the strength of character and passion which is required to make a difference in the world.
“And so they shall ask us, and we shall tell them. It wasn’t easy, but we made it still”
*Kagiso Maphalle, an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Private Law under the Chair in Customary Law, Indigenous Values and Human Rights at the University of Cape Town.