Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy Woman's Day

Today is Woman's Day in South Africa, a national holiday.

During the days of Apartheid in South Africa, black Africans were required to carry special papers to be in certain parts of their country, in white areas. These papers came to be known simply as "the pass."

The 9th of August commemorates the national march of South African women when, in 1956, they came to parliament to petition against that law which curtailed their movement in their own homeland.

On this day, the women stood in silent protest outside the Union Buildings, many with children on their backs. They sang a song that had been composed especially for the occasion, Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! which means, Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock!

Today, 54 years later (and 16 years after the culmination of the long struggle to make South Africa a free nation) the phrase is still heard, in remembrance. In its current incarnation:

"You strike a woman, you strike a rock!"

Happy Woman's Day to all of you.

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