Women’s Day on Thursday . The office busy although it is a public holiday and there are banners up everywhere for Women’s Day and a celebratory cake in the shape of the African continent. A small liberated woman-in the- making named Katlego has spilled a spoonful of instant oats on my keyboard.
On August 9, 1956 20 000 mostly black women sold their furniture and
mortgaged their homes and travelled from all over South Africa by train
up to stage a march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against
the the apartheid pass laws of 1950 that would not allow black people to
live or move freely outside of township areas. They left bundles of
petitions containing more than 100 000 of signatures at prime minister
J.G. Strijdom’s office door.
Outside they stood silently for 30 minutes, many with their children on
their backs. Those who were working for white people as nannies were
carrying their (white) charges with them. The women sang a protest song
that was composed in honour of the occasion: Wathint’Abafazi
Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a
rock.). In the more than 50 years since, the phrase: “you strike a woman,
you strike a rock”) has come to represent women’s courage and strength
in South Africa.
All the apple and peach trees are bursting into blossom and Capetonians
are heading to the beach, there is kwaito music drifting up from Long
Street.This crazy wonderful country and continent.
Nigerian writer Ben Okri: “Africa‘s pain, invisibility, misconception. One’s living it all the time. Not just the media perception of it, but in terms of individual lives – the stuff you see in people’s eyes. How Africa‘s perceived; how we perceive, and fail to perceive, one another.”