Have you every pondered about why we celebrate Womans Day on the 9th of August every year in South Africa.

The facts of the matter go like this.

On August 9, 1956, about 20,000 South African women staged a march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act (commonly known as the pass laws ) of 1950. These pass laws were all about whether a woman was “allowed” or not into the hallowed “White” areas in the previously rotten-to-the-extreme South Africa. The women left petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures expressing their anger and frustration regarding their freedom of movement; they stood silently for 30 minutes, many with their children on their backs. The women sang a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion: *Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (you strike a woman, you strike a rock). In the 55 years since, the phrase: “*you strike a woman, you strike a rock” *has become a symbol of the resilience of South African women and their sacrifices in the struggle for non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, it has come to represent women’s courage and strength not only in South Africa, but even beyond her borders.

Anyway ………… all in all the woman were getting pretty cheesed off about having to haul out a passbook every time they had to go and work at the Meddem’s houses.

To add to this the police were not very polite when they asked.  By being stopped they probably missed their bus to work, or were held up long enough to make them late for work ………… and we all know what happens if your housekeeper is late – yip you get cheesed off.  Then you keep her longer at work for being late ……. she is already working hideous hours – 7am till 5 pm, she is already being paid pittance, she is already travelling at least an hour to work.  So she misses her bus home and has to walk.  So whilst she is walking she gets stopped again because she is in a white area and gets arrested – all because she left her stupid passbook at home.

All in all a BAD SITUATION.  Her kids are cheesed off with her because she is NEVER at home, never coming to their sports days, never able to give them a birthday party, her husband is cheesed off with her because she is basically giving all her energy to another family, her Meddem is cheesed of with her, the police are cheesed off with her, the Government hates her – and most of all she is cheesed off with herself because her life has Zero balance.

So all these cheesed-off women start doing what women do …… they start talking to each other and their “cheesed-off-ness” is spoken about at the bus stop – first ten women – then they get onto ten diffenent busses and talk to the 30 odd women on the bus, now we have 300-odd women chatting.  They then all talk to the “live-ins” in the neighborhood and before you know it we have 20 000 women signing a petition and not pitching at the Meddems house on August 9 1956.

Now the Meddems are cheesed-off because there is no domestic and they they start talking (as women do) and they realize that the easiest way to have your housekeeper at work, on time is to also get rid of the stupid pass books.

So all these Women decided to hold a peaceful protest and marched to the Union Buildings,  JG Strijdom the Prime Minister at the time was so rattled he didnt even pitch to accept the petition – he sent his Secretary instead. 

The Secretary was then probably cheesed off because she was sent to fetch the petition, so she makes a few typos, sneezes into his coffee and comes late to work a couple of days.  Now old JG reckons he mustn’t cheese off the Chicks and he does away with the pass books.

The women have got their way.  Through talking to each other (as women do), by standing together (as women don’t normally do), and by silently and peacefully (as women don’t do!)  the women of SA in 1956 managed the impossible.

To add to this …….. as women, let’s think of the women in our lives, the Ladies who run our homes and raise our children.  Let’s give these women the respect they deserve, they run 2 households where we need them to run one.  For goodness sake these ladies wash our underwear and clean our toilets, cook our food and sweep our floors, in-between all of this they raise our children.

I salute you all.

 And remember …….. when you strike a woman, you strike a rock, YOU WILL BE CRUSHED.

wathint’ abafazi,
wathint’ imbokodo,
uza kufa!


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