The use of revolutionary songs in the #FeesMustFall movement: a discourse analysis.
Phajane, Mokgabisi Gaopalelwe.
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This study employed a discourse and thematic analysis to explore the use of revolutionary songs in the #FeesMustFall (#FMF) movement. This was achieved through three main objectives namely: to identify the role(s) of revolutionary songs in the #FMF movement; to explore the purpose of amending pre-1994 revolutionary songs during the activities of the #FMF movement; and to investigate the intended message(s) communicated by the revolutionary songs sung by the #FMF members. A qualitative methodology was employed, and the theoretical framework used was social constructionism. The sample size consisted of six participants and data was collected using semi-structured interviews. The results of the study suggest that the use of revolutionary songs in the #FMF movement were understood by their functionality. Three primary themes identified as playing roles by revolutionary songs in the #FMF movement were, namely: communicating, mobilising, and expressing collective identity. The participants understood emotional, spiritual, and nostalgic expressions as subthemes for the communicative role. The participants were in consensus that the songs ought to accurately reflect the context in which they occur, although there were contradictions regarding the seemingly opposing positions vis-à-vis the need versus no need to amend revolutionary songs. This elicited a discussion regarding the relevance of revolutionary songs in the #FMF movement. The discussion produced the fourth theme of the findings titled: the more things change, the more they remain the same. The revolutionary songs of the #FMF movement conveyed message(s) perceived to be important to the members of the wider #FMF movement. The fifth theme regarding the intended message(s) communicated by the revolutionary songs is titled: messages that ego the past. The increase in tuition fees served as a catalyst for unearthing deeper issues that were present in South African higher education. Certain revolutionary songs focused on challenging the barriers of inequality, widespread discontent regarding the conditions of colonialism, transformation, and institutional racism, while other revolutionary songs conveyed the constructive roles of self-persuasion, reaffirmation of identity, and mobilisation. The participants demonstrated that the intended message(s) may change based on the directed audience and the audience itself may change based on the context.