Former student activist, Simamkele Dlakavu, says protests are often romanticized, but they come with personal costs. The psychological trauma that leaves those on the frontlines of these movements damaged and scarred for life is not often highlighted.
Dlakavu was speaking at the launch of an art exhibition themed: Insurgent Citizens, held at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg.
Dlakavu says she was involved in three student protests, #FeesMustFall, Rhodes University Naked Protest and Remember Khwezi Protest. “These for me were not political, but deeply personal.”
She says many of the student leaders who lead the protests have been scarred for life. She recalled an encounter with a fellow activist whom she had seen in 2016, after their involvement in that struggle.
Dlakavu recited her peers words, in tears: “Soloko ndinxilile, Sima,soloko ndiqhunyiwe,andikho right.” (I am always drunk, Sima, I am always high, I am not fine.)
Dlakavu says: “When we think about these protests, we need to understand they came with a cost and this has not been resolved…some are in mental institutions, some in prison.”