Strike a Rock August 9, 2018 08:30

Internationally, Women's Day is supposed to be about celebrating the social, economic, political and cultural achievement of women, which I find to be a bit patronising - how surprising! 

But it does also draw attention to issues such as violence against women and gender inequality in various spheres of life.

Mostly though, it's been diluted into a type of second Mother's Day, with a few nice retail discounts and a pleasant day off work.

I love our South African Women's Day in that it is a commemoration of a truly outstanding achievement by women.

Pretoria, 9 August 1956

Risking arrest and detention, about 20 000 women from all around the country marched to the Union Buildings.

Organised by FSAW (Federation of South African Women) and led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams, they delivered a petition outlining their frustrations with the proposed pass laws (the Urban Areas Act), restricting access to certain urban areas.

After laying the bundles of petitions at the door of the prime minister JG Strydom, the massive crowd stood in silence for a full thirty minutes. Before departing they sang a song composed for the occasion,“Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!” 

wathint’ abafazi,
wathint’ imbokodo,
uza kufa!

When you strike the women,
you strike a rock,
you will be crushed [you will die]!

The phrase "When you strike a woman, you strike a rock" has since come to represent women's courage and strength in South Africa.

The march was a resounding success, described by many as a moving and emotional experience. 


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