As I was browsing through social media coming across ‘Happy women’s day’ posts, the men and women I saw earlier this morning running a race in commemoration of women’s day crossed my mind. I felt a bit guilty that people are actually doing something constructive on this day and I was sitting there stuffing my face with a RocoMamas burger and chips. And after I had a conversation with a friend earlier about this day he confessed he doesn’t really know how women’s day came about. I realised that as much as I knew that women’s day was about woman power and upliftment. So many of us still do not have a clue of the significance of this day and those that do are so quick to forget. We see women’s day as just another public holiday to catch up on some sleep or on one more episode of Game of Thrones.
I won’t lie I’ve never really been a huge fan of History myself. I actually remember getting an F once on a test in school because I didn’t understand why we as South Africans had to learn about the French revolution or Hitler. But after reading up about the history of women’s day today I think that might change. I finally realise how important history is (even if it’s about other countries), it teaches us about where we come from and how certain things came to be. Without much further ado I would like to give you a brief history of what I have learnt today about August the 9th.
August the 9th is a very important day that went down in history as the emancipation of South African women. In the year 1956 before you and I were born, thousands of women from all over the country came together as one unit to fight tirelessly against the oppression of the Apartheid government. I’m talking White, Indian and our Black mothers and sisters who carried the children of their white bosses on their backs. They fought through a peaceful march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria which were led by activists by the names Lilian Ngoyi, Sophia Williams, Helen Joseph and Albertina Sisulu whose names you might have seen on street signs or healthcare facilities.
Just in case I’ve lost you, the march was done to rise up against the legislations that require black South Africans to carry the “pass”. These women drew up petitions which were dropped off at doors of the Prime Minister’s office containing more than a thousand signatures from them. As they stood silently for about 30 minutes waiting on a verdict a song was composed in honour of the occasion that sang “Wathinti’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo”, which I’ve just recently learned means “You’ve touched women, you have struck a rock”. It was these displays of political strength of different courageous women standing in solidarity and resilience to fight for what they believed in that has made this day, August the 9th go down in the books of history.
Today so many other women continue to show this display of strength and resilience in their lifestyles. Wether it’s by working a 9-5 or uplifting another sister. They strive each day despite any setbacks they encounter to prove why they matter and why women as a whole have equal rights as men do.
What does it mean to you to be a woman or what thoughts do you have about the strong women in your life, please share your thoughts by commenting below.
Images courtesy of Twitter @womensmarch