This was the melody that drummed of vigour, strength and hope from the depth of her core to the brim of of her soft lips. This was the tune that she of 1956 echoed as she marched to the Pretoria Union Buildings in demonstration of her defiance to oppressive pass law amendments. This was one of the many struggles where she embodied a kind of courage that only she could. 9 August 1956. This is why we celebrate Women’s day today.
You and I may not have been the she of 1956, and we may not face the struggle which she faced. But, we still embody her courage. And the struggle still continues.
“You strike the woman, you strike the rock!”
This post in context
It’s around 5 am, the time I generally pull myself out of bed on a week day, and I am up writing this post for two reasons: firstly, to share some history as it often happens that public holidays come and go with us caught up in our lives that we jump for joy at the thought of a day away from the office or a few hours away from our lecture halls, forgetting what the public holiday is actually in celebration of. And secondly, to share with you some of the women whom I have come to celebrate and why.
Women’s day in South Africa, celebrated annually on 9 August, commemorates the protesting by women in 1956 against proposed amendments to the pass laws which would have had them, as their black male counterparts were already subjected to, carry passes as a sort of “green card” into urban areas. Although the apartheid government did eventually pass the long resisted laws, it did so with great difficulty as a result of the courage that women from all races demonstrated in defiance thereof.
For a quick overview of 9 August 1956, check out this 3 min YouTube clip.
For a more insightful understanding, check out the African Feminist Forum’s write up here.
Women worth reading up on
Thuli Madonsela, former Public Protector of South Africa, and known for her contribution to law and politics. She demonstrated courage throughout her tenure as Public Protector with her bottom line as “getting rid of the rot” of corruption that plagued (and still plagues) the South African government.
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and known for her work in media. She demonstrated courage when sharing her thoughts on the emancipation of women in the workplace through her book titled Lean In (which you should certainly consider reading!).
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, world-renowned Nigerian novelist known for her contribution to the arts. She has demonstrated courage throughout her career, speaking up on issues affecting women in particular and blacks in general. Two must watch YouTube clips of her are titled We should all be feminists and The danger of a single story.
While I look to many other women for guidance and teachings (my mom, aunts, friends or sisters as I call them, colleagues, and and), these three women resonate with me partcularly for their involvement in law, media, and the arts. These women demonstrated (or continue to demonstrate) a kind of courage that the she of 1956 demonstrated, and that you and I embody the potential to demonstrate too!
Leading up to our next Women’s day celebration, I surely hope we rise up to the courageous women that we are inately shaped to be, and that we may do so in all facets of our lives in whichever field we may find ourselves in!
Thanking you for reading this post, especially if you are one of the courageous women in my life! I really struggled with finding images I thought appropriate, so I hope you find it complementary to the post in general.
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Until our next post Seers, what’s good?