FMF trauma will take years to overcome - award-winning activist Fasiha Hassan

Student activist Fasiha Hassan says it's going to take young students years to overcome the trauma of the Fees Must Fall movement.

Hassan says there has not been enough discussion about how the fight for free education impacted on the mental health of students nationwide.

She was recently awarded the Norwegian Student Peace Prize for her role in the Fees Must Fall movement.

Read: Wits Fallists disrupt dominant narrative with 'Rioting and Writing' book

Hassan says she dedicates her award to all students who fought for access to free higher education

She's been recognised for her “non-violent” efforts to help students gain equal access to higher education.

Hassan is the former Wits student representative council (SRC) secretary-general.

The law student was part of Wits University’s student leadership between 2015 and 2017. She has since joined the ANC's communications team.

Also read: Reflecting on the psychological impact of student protests

Hassan maintains that Fees Must Fall was predominantly led by strong black women, and says there have been many attempts to erase that history.

She spoke about her role in the student movement, how it impacted students, as well as how she negotiates her activism with her religion and political affiliation.

We were faced with fee increments, failed negotiations and a discussion about a protest. I found myself at the very helm of what was we now know as the Fees Must Fall moment.

Fasiha Hassan, student leader, #FeesMustFall activist, Deputy President at SA Union of Students

As a law student, you woke up every day with the potential that you would be arrested and charged. Once you're charged, you can never practice.

Fasiha Hassan, student leader, #FeesMustFall activist, Deputy President at SA Union of Students

Physical wounds can heal, but I think we're only starting to realise the impact it had on a mental health over or so. The anxiety and the depression that so many young people are facing. We're seeing it the number of suicides and people suffering from PTSD.

Fasiha Hassan, student leader, #FeesMustFall activist, Deputy President at SA Union of Students

I think it's going to take years for us to overcome.

Fasiha Hassan, student leader, #FeesMustFall activist, Deputy President at SA Union of Students

We've always tried to make Fees Must Fall intersectional, I think there were times when we were more successful than others.

Fasiha Hassan, student leader, #FeesMustFall activist, Deputy President at SA Union of Students

There were many times where the marginalisation of women was very much present... There was a lack of acknowledgement of women leaders.

Fasiha Hassan, student leader, #FeesMustFall activist, Deputy President at SA Union of Students

Whether we like it or not, Fees Must Fall was predominantly led by strong black women... Women are and were at the forefront. There was this deep attempt to erase that given the patriarchy and the misogyny.

Fasiha Hassan, student leader, #FeesMustFall activist, Deputy President at SA Union of Students

Islam is a vital part of my life, my spirituality and religious practice... It's strange. I never thought I would find religion and God in politics or in activism.

Fasiha Hassan, student leader, #FeesMustFall activist, Deputy President at SA Union of Students

There's also a bigger part of what it means to be a Muslim, and for me, that means social justice. My Islam comes out in my activism and how I practice.

Fasiha Hassan, student leader, #FeesMustFall activist, Deputy President at SA Union of Students

She also opened up about her upbringing and how her parents' activism helped shaped her political views.

Listen to the in-depth discussion with stand-in host Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh:


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