One of the opportunities arising from the wave of student movements sweeping across South Africa (for those not directly involved) is learning how to support.
The prevailing instincts are to critique (as Mbembe did), co-opt (as the Democratic Alliance is so desperately trying to do) or derail (“why are you not marching to Luthuli house, the PetroSA loss could pay for 100,000 degrees, etc, etc, etc).
The questions rarely asked are “How do I support?”, “How do I amplify?”, “How can I be an accomplice?
The problem is pervasive in social justice movements. White allies lecturing Blacks on how to do anti-racism, male allies telling women how to be feminists.
It does not have to be that way. In the age of social media, it is must each easier to be a true supporter and an accomplice in bringing about change.
Step 1: Listen
Listen to the students and the student leadership directly. Dispense with intermediaries who may interject their own identity and ideologies in the information they filter through to you. Key examples of ideologues masquerading as objective commentators are Adriaan Basson and Barry Bateman.
On Twitter, follow students participating in and sharing about the protests. If you like your Timeline, slow and quiet, use a list.
If the raw feed is too much to take, follow a few key students and seek impartial on the ground reporting like the Daily Vox is doing.
Step 2: Act on the requests for Support
Protesting is hard and takes its toll mentally and physically. The students need food, hydration, data etc and are using social media to co-ordinate. Assist where you can.
Step 3: Amplify / Support
Retweet the voices of the students so your followers can get the direct voices of the movement.
Amplify the movement by building on the message. Support efforts to pressure the centres of power, one key example is Amandla.mobi . Sign up to support their campaigns.
Avoid adding your opinion on what the students should do and focus rather on what you can contribute, support.
Start developing a critical filter in order to not amplify those trying to hijack the movement.
In short, in order to be supportive – say little, do a lot.