Day 5: Shaeera from philosophy
It was the second week of my first year at Wits back in 2012 and a school friend of mine brought two people she had met in her politics class to sit with us in our philosophy lecture. One of them had big curly hair and wore a tracksuit, and being the nosy person that I am, I immediately started asking her everything about her life. She told me that she was from Pretoria and had gone to school there and – unlike me, who had literally half of my matric class on campus with me – she knew very few people at Wits, with only a couple of her school friends also there.
I don’t really remember everything of what happened next but we would have BBM conversations (lol) about anything and everything all the time. I got involved in some Palestine stuff on campus because of her, and I would visit her at home and she would buy us steak from Mohideens. Midway through second year I introduced her to another close friend of mine who was looking for a roommate, and when they started living together, I was the unofficial third roommate. We were inseparable then – if we weren’t having ice cream or lunch together after campus, it was naps or watching movies and series and cooking supper together (in between studying philosophy, obvs).
When she got her own place, I would make myself at home there too. When my family had to go away one weekend and I had too much work to do, I stayed with her and we chugged Red Bull and worked together til 4am for two days. When she started getting more involved in politics at Wits and there were lots of late nights and unexpected meetings, I would take her parents’ calls and reassure them that she was okay. In the beginning stages of the protests in October last year when she was basically living at Wits, she would pop in at my house in the mornings to shower while I made her a toasted cheese. And when my mum had a short hospital stay earlier this year, she was one of the first to call and come visit and bring her a box of her favourite chocolates.
I am just listing things now. But on Friday was my friendâ€™s Shaeera’s birthday, and I’m reflecting on what a solid friendship we have. It’s so important to have good friends who can support you in what you do and more importantly also keep you grounded, spiritually. Â Ours is a friendship that I value deeply – it is by no means perfect, and we don’t always agree on everything – but we have a lot of love and respect for one another and I think that’s really invaluable.
Many people know her as one of the leaders of #FeesMustFall, in which she did extraordinary work. People got to see her true spirit and uncompromising determination, and the dedication she has to ensuring the dignity and rights to education of all of those who continue to be disenfranchised, not only by the university, but by broader society too.
She’s such a fantastic girl and I think it’s so fitting that she had a Muhammad Ali birthday cake – so many of his qualities, I see in her too. Fierce, bold, does not mince words, and loved and respected by so many. Truth be told though, I’ve never seen her throw a punch.
This is a special Ramadaan series by our fave Muslim reporter, Aaisha Dadi Patel. To catch up on Day 4’s musings, click here.Â