Location: The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa (taken in August 2007)
Background: After the fall of the Apartheid state, South Africa’s democratic parliament drew up South Africa’s new constitution. At the heart of the constitution are seven fundamental values which are represented by pillars that visitors see upon their arrival at the museum; Democracy, Equality, Reconciliation, Diversity, Responsibility, Respect, and Freedom.
While the words emblazoned on these pillars have come to represent the values of a nation who fought against apartheid they also remind us of the contributions women made to ensure that future generations could live in a free, non-racial, non-sexist, and democratic country. As Nelson Mandela once said;
To be free is to not merely cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
National Women’s Day: Yesterday, August 9th, was the 55th anniversary of Women’s Day in South Africa. This day honors the 20,000 South African women who staged a peaceful march on the Union Building in Pretoria to protest against the proposed amendments to the “Pass Laws” that limited their freedom of movement. The women stood silently for 30 minutes and then sang a protest song that was composed for the occasion: “Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!” meaning “You strike a woman, you strike a rock.” In the years since this phrase has come to symbolize the resilience of South African women, their sacrifices in the struggle for a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, and the courage and strength of all women.
This is an important holiday; not only to remind South Africans of the incredible courage of the women who stood up for their rights on August 9, 1956, but also to remind people around the world that liberation is only complete when women are free of all forms of oppression.