Citizen. Speak. Amplify.

An open love letter to my comrade bae… or at least 32 reasons why I see you

Wits academic, DANAI MUPOTSA, has a few words for all the comrade baes who have been participating in the recent student protests across South Africa. 

The “open letter” often takes “against, against, against” as a preferred narrative form. There are probably good reasons for this, but I would like to take a moment in breath for a mode of address made in dense love.

What we have seen in past weeks are forms of holding each other that are massively disorienting. We have been made to be completely out of our proper place in forms of relation, pulling towards one another, sometimes against, certainly in friction – pulling at a range of wishes and will for a truly meaningful revolutionary moment.

Willing and wishing are densely affective demands.

And I don’t mean that as mere description.

What is hard to articulate is the dense rage, hope, disappointment, fear, force, frustration, commitment, pain, happiness, pleasure and breaking inhered to the kind of work that comrade bae has been up to.

I want to write an open love letter to you, my comrade bae.

1. This is my love for comrade bae, whose heart is always already broken by the conceit of every moment and every place where our cleverness is measured on a scale of progress/ive/ness that is meaningless in its content and nonperformative in its commitment. Your heart is always already broken but you wake up every day with a fierce bundle of will, and heartache.

2. This is my love for comrade bae who will be that teacher who saunters through the classroom with hands in pockets and the suave confidence that says “I was always meant to be here” despite lived conditions that have tried to teach you otherwise. I see you.

3. This is my love for comrade bae who remembers to find ten minutes, when the day is time-pressed to rub one out, because you know that this too is part of our revolution.

4. This is my love for comrade bae whose voice belts “justice now!” with impatience, full with fear that the chance to say it again and again will pass us by and it will be all for nothing. You are the same comrade bae who speaks softly; considerate of every word, playing cautiously with language, intentional and gentle when in the company of others who have been made to be more accustomed to silence. I see you.

5. This is my love for comrade bae who is full, so full of will that every part of your body presents itself, naked and exposed because you will give everything for the possibility of a life we have not even begun to imagine.

6. This is my love for comrade bae who gives us poetry.

7. This is my love for comrade bae whose will refuses to become accustomed to people not ever actually seeing you. I see you.

8. This is my love for comrade bae who makes sure that other comrades are fed.

9. This is my love for comrade bae who makes us laugh and sing.

10. This is my love for comrade bae who loves to read, reads vociferously, reads for hope, for clarity, for everything.

11. This is my love for comrade bae who knows that excellence is a lie, and yet you are still excellent.

12. This is my love for comrade bae who walks amongst the vampires.

13. This is my love for comrade bae who has been committed to struggle of workers today, yesterday, tomorrow – with a dense commitment that refuses the temporality of the event.

14. This is my love for comrade bae who screams because comrade bae can’t take the abuse of uncles anymore.

15. This is my love for comrade bae who dances around fires for courage.

16. This is my love for comrade bae who manages a laugh with a cry, when violated with words, fists, stun grenades and tear gas.

17. This is my love for comrade bae who remains full of fire.

18. This is my love for comrade bae who has ugly feelings like jealousy.

19. This is my love for comrade bae who has ugly feelings like lust.

20. This is my love for comrade bae who writes the most beautiful essays.

21. This is my love for comrade bae who wears lipstick and wraps that head like a badass.

22. This is my love for comrade bae who stood up to a room full of senators that didn’t want to see us.

23. This is my love for comrade bae who finds a new part of their spirit and a new tone to their voice every other day, like breathing.

24. This is my love for comrade bae who looks ragged.

25. This is my love for comrade bae who knows how to manage bank accounts and resources.

26. This is my love for comrade bae who knows how to throw shade like a badass.

27. This is my love for comrade bae who speaks up at moments when it requires courage. I see you even when your voice cracks and breaks; you are beautiful.

28. This is my love for comrade bae who insists on a dense debate concerning the best way to have anal sex over lunch and while we make decisions on political strategy.

29. This is my love for comrade bae who stands outside police stations waiting for the embrace of the others locked inside.

30. This is my love for comrade bae who makes densely contradictory commitments to living, being and change in this difficult world. I see your principles. I see you.

31. This is my love for comrade bae who knows how to use a Twitter handle #comradebae #likeabadass

32. This is love for comrade bae. The clever people will write and speak about you in poor accounts of “the students,” “the workers,” “the teachers” and accuse you of wishing without evidence. But I see you and your dense will and imagination. I see you taking knowledge/power on like a badass.

Danai MoputsaDanai Mupotsa is a lecturer in African Literature at Wits University.

Featured image by Ra’eesa Pather

3 Comments
  1. Power Juice says

    what the fuck does this mean lmao

  2. Power Juice says

    “ooga booga, bix nood, comrade bae fam” –author of this article lol

  3. […] Danai Mupotsa, An Open Letter to My Comrade Bae . . . or at least 32 Reasons Why I See You […]

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