Khensani's Memorial at St Peter's Chapel, UCKAR
Today, after returning from the hospital to see my student discharged from hospital, I went on to Khensani Maseko's memorial at St Peter's chapel. It was hard to go. Firstly, I heard today that the number of female students from Rhodes who had attempted suicide this week had risen to 8! Then, travelling towards the chapel it was hard to see how life went on. Students and staff members went about their business as if nothing had happened. Then I was saying to a friend - even if there were uproar, that doesn't seem to help either. This filled me and continues to fill me with a sense of helpless and desperate dread.
The memorial was not very well attended, but Khensani's mother and other family members were present as well as the vice chancellor Sizwe Mabizela. The speakers included SRC members, wardens and friends. The addresses were brief interluded by joyful and sorrowful songs mostly led by the SRC committee who were seated next to the official choir whose name I have forgotten. The service was officiated by Dr. Rev. Kgabe who knew Khensani prior to her Rhodes days back in Soweto. The family hymn was Lizalis idinga Lakho and Pamela Maseko gave a heartbreakingly powerful speech in Khensani's honour.
It was an emotional day and the call for action is urgent. It is hard not to be angry, bitter and destructive. Perhaps it is better to let oneself be, for a moment. But there is a sense of gratitude also. For me, it took Khensani leaving us to really become aware again of how much harder I have to work, how much more focussed I need to be. Gender based violence and the resulting emotional distress had never gone away. But when the destruction hits close to home, we can use that anguish to resume the work with even more conviction and purpose.