I’m not sure what I want to say to you and how I want to say it. All I know is, at this very moment, you probably need a love letter. Everyone is comparing your province with another. Everyone is sharing photos of the one who got however many distinctions and accolades. Whether you have passed or not, there is gnawing insecurity about how you could have done better.
I want to tell you; you are enough. In fact, not only are you enough, but the social conditions and the obstacles over which you ascended as a young, Black person living in post-apartheid South Africa to get to this point puts you light-years ahead of your peers. But this is not what you will be told. The media will shame your province, the community will shame your school and make you insecure for your greatest victory yet – staying alive and hopeful to even get to matric. Through no fault of their own, many do not even get to this point. You are a wonder and a miracle.
To those going to university, please remember that there are many different ways to educate oneself; university is just one avenue. In fact, my experience of university was being pumped with “knowledge” to which I could not relate as a young Black person from the township. As a Black youth, you have seen and experienced an education that universities may never consider valid. But you are knowledge. Your body carries knowledge, languages and worlds that your white lecturers can never access. To learn at university in a second language is proof that you are a god. Most white students cannot even greet you in your language, yet you will learn complex concepts in theirs.
Never trust what someone says because they are a figure of authority. The ivory tower will chastise you for questioning its wisdom, but always question what you are told. Always research what you are taught, and never be afraid to disagree with things that don’t sit well with your humanity. Lecturers are not gods; they are just people who have prejudices. And if you feel victimised, reach out to a student body that will protect you. Remember that your accent or home situation is not an indication of your intelligence. Please, please remember this.
To the students who will not get access to a formal education due to funding or results: you are just as capable as those who do have access. People in movements like Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall are making huge sacrifices so that the doors of learning are open to you in the future. The struggle between government, universities, and the students is because people like you are deliberately being kept out. I also want to tell you that these degrees are the new kind of dompas we need for white people to employ us. We love you so much, and some of us are working very hard so that you don’t live in a society where you have to constantly prove yourself to white people.
To the students that did not make it, I am sending you a love that rests in your spine and holds you up in Black love. The ability to memorise facts and not be able to remember them in a stressful environment like an exam is not the sum of who you are. You are loved and remembered during a time that will deem you a failure. You are resilient. You are intelligent. You are capable.
You are loved.