Shaeera Kalla

Student activist

Shaeera Kalla feels strongly that as a Muslim she is obligated to fight against all social injustice. Her privileged background and good education highlighted for her the stark inequality in the world, particularly in South Africa.

During her school years she witnessed the inequality of our school system when she volunteered to tutor learners at a makeshift school in Soshanguve. Seeing learners her age struggling to read, write or complete basic arithmetic made her feel ashamed of the systematic oppression that is still linked to race in our country.

At Wits University Kalla is an activist, keenly involved in the Progressive Youth Alliance, the Palestinian Solidarity Committee and the Workers Solidarity Committee, and was the president of the Student Representative Council (SRC).

“I don’t claim to speak on behalf of anyone in the work I do, I am merely exposing a system that is bound to fail, neo-colonialism in the form of neoliberal capitalism,” says Kalla.

“As the great writer and activist Arundhati Roy said: ‘There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.’

There is much work to be done, and much social injustice to fight.”

In her position as president of the SRC, Kalla played a prominent role in the forced shutdown of Wits as a symbolic act to display the students’ anger and frustration at the elitist, exclusionary anti-black and anti-poor university system in South Africa.

“At the time, we had no idea it would turn into a national campaign,” says Kalla.

The successful shutdown had a ripple effect on numerous campuses, resulting in a national shutdown of universities across the country, and put the issue of free, quality education for all on the national agenda.

“The protest showed the world that the power of a mobilised youth can shake the core of an unjust system. More importantly, it reminded us as the youth of the power we hold to defeat the status quo.” — Linda Doke

Twitter: @Shaeera_K