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Thank you for agreeing to be a part of this inaugural Webinar, “Connecting the joint struggles for Decolonised Education – Past, Present and Future… from South Africa to the USA to Palestine.”

Shamsaan and our partners are launching a Webinar Series on transnational struggles resisting settler colonialism on June 16, commemorated as SOUTH AFRICAN YOUTH DAY. This June 16 is significant because it marks 44 years since the historic 1976 SOWETO UPRISINGS which was sparked by school children protesting the Afrikaans Medium Decree, which forced black schools to use Afrikaans and English as the languages of instruction. This legislation by the apartheid government was a form of further oppressing and hindering the education of black students, in order to exploit black labour and keep the unjust order of systematic racism intact. 

The struggles for decolonised education in South Africa were revived by the 2015 ‘RHODES MUST FALL’ and ‘FEES MUST FALL” protests at universities. These protests have resonated across the world and currently at Oxford University; there are ongoing protests to remove the statue of the racist Cecil John Rhodes. 

In USA the brutal killing of George Floyd has given renewed energy to the BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT (BLM) and has shifted mindsets the world over driven to addressing structural racism. In PALESTINE, days after George Floyd was publicly slain, a 32-year-old disabled autistic man, Iyad Halak, was killed by Israeli police in Jerusalem. Palestinians live under a violnt Israeli occupation, and Ethiopian Israelis live under a racist white supremacist Jewish state. The fatal police shooting of an unarmed Ethiopian-Israeli teenager last year resulted in protests across cities.

This issue is not far from home for South Africans either, although the contexts may be different. The killing of Collins Khosa and more than 19 others under the lockdown at the hands of the South African National Defense Force and police has sparked outrage. Taken together, these deaths highlight parallels between three struggles which have their roots in systems of violent settler colonialism.

As the Black Lives Matter protests grow around the world, Palestinians are facing the threat of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley and illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. This has been met with heavy criticism, rejection and protest. Protestors in Tel Aviv waved Palestinian flags, while others held signs reading “Palestinian Lives Matter” and “Stop Apartheid.”

Given the devastating but hopeful times we are in, seeing people coming together against unjust status quos around the world, it is important that we take time to engage with one another on how all our struggles for justice are deeply connected.

“Let’s Connect” over shared struggles and transnational solidarity in resisting systems of settler colonialism and oppression the world over, from South Africa to Palestine, to the United States of America and beyond.

“Lets Talk” with students, activists, academics, workers, artists and organisers to re-imagine what must rise as we push for systems of oppression to fall.

“Let’s Build” relationships and grow a social justice movement that promotes freedom and collective liberation. The series will be presented on Zoom, live-streamed on Facebook and available on video platforms like YouTube and podcasting outlets.

The Facilitator Shaeera Kalla, is a South African activist and former president of the Student Representative Council at the University of the Witwatersrand. She was involved in the Fees Must Fall movement that began in 2015 that calls for decommodified and decolonised education. She completed her Masters in African Studies at the University of Oxford and will facilitate the Shamsaan Youth Day webinar

Nerdeen Kiswani: Palestinian organiser from New York City and Law student at the CUNY School of Law. Founder and Chair of Within Our Lifetime – United for Palestine, a community based Palestinian youth organization that has been building the movement for Palestine for over 5 years.

Neo Mosala: Student activist from South Africa, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation fellow and Law student at the University of the Witwatersrand. Chairperson of Rethinking Economics for Africa (REFA) at the University of the Witwatersrand. REFA is an organisation of students building a better economics in society and the classroom. Through a mix of campaigning, events and engaging projects, REFA also connects people to discuss and enact the change needed for the future of economics.

Ahed Tamimi: Palestinian activist, Ambassador of Shamsaan and Law Student at Birzeit University. She is known for her struggle against illegal settlement expansion, and was arrested when she was just 16 years old. She has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance all over the world.

Jannah Jihad: 14 year old Janna is recognized as the world’s youngest registered journalist. She began making videos and posting online, what was happening in her village of Nabi Saleh when she was only seven. As the Ambassador of Shamsaan, Janna accesses platforms internationally giving voice to the issues that impact life under military occupation, particularly the children.

Marc Lamont Hill: award-winning journalist named on America’s top 100 most influential Black leaders and academic. His research focuses on the intersections between culture, politics, and education in the United States and the Middle East.

Loubna Qutami: founder, member, and the former International General Coordinator for the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) She is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, PhD from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside, Former Executive  Director of the Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC) in San Francisco.    

Obakeng Leseyane: South African Youth activist recognized as the youngest Inaugural Public Service Fellow at Apolitical Academy ‘19. Obakeng is committed to working at the intersection of Education, Public Policy and Strategic Development centering young people in the engagement.