Since I am not on Facebook anymore, I have a lot more time to read the news and interesting articles where I actually learn something.
Yesterday was Women's Day in SA, celebrating 60 years since South African women marched to the union buildings to protest against the pass laws. 20 000 woman participated in this march. This must have been an amazing experience, seeing and feeling the strength and courage of these woman as they marched for what they believed in.
I love the saying that originated from this protest: "If you strike a woman, you strike a rock"...
This message was highlighted again when 4 woman protested silently, only a few days before Woman's Day, with posters saying #rememberkhwezi while President Zuma announced the Local Government Election Results. Without going into too much detail about their reasons for this, I do applaud them for their courage and silent but powerful message. You can read all about it in this article about the Khwezi protest. It was in this insightful article that I read about something else that I have never heard about and that I think should also be celebrated on this day dedicated to women who stand up for what they believe in...
The Black Sash was founded in 1955 over a cup of tea when 6 middle-class woman were outraged by the government's attempts to remove "coloured" citizens from the voter's roll and decided to do something about it. They developed into a powerful non-violent resistance organization and they protested against apartheid until Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Madiba himself referred to them as the conscience of the white South Africa during the dark days of apartheid."
Their tactics were quite simple, yet brilliant and with a powerful message:
- "Blacksashing" (wearing a black sash during silent protests, as a sign of mourning over the constitution) and
- "Hauting" (standing and staring in silence wherever ministers appeared (even from the stands in parliament) making them very uncomfortable.
Here are some of the photos of these ladies who are iconic for their very lady-like protesting style...
I love this slogan "Kultuur ken geen Kleur-slagboom nie" translated to English: "Culture knows no Colour-barriers"
I would love to read this...
I would like to believe I would have been part of such a movement if I was born in a different time...
- I became an "activist" (even if only in my mind) after reading "A dry White Season" by Andre P Brink and for the first time hearing the painful truth about Apartheid.
- I was called horrible names in grade 4 when parents of the other children who was in hostel with me, called my parents to inform them that I am hanging out too much with the two black girls on our floor. I remember that I used to sit on the one girl's lap while she drew beautiful pictures for me. This was apparently frowned upon by most of my "friends" who then told their parents and caused a bit of an outrage.
- Before the black girls were even allowed in our hostel, our principal asked us "to stand up" against racial discrimination and accept the two new girls who would join us in a few weeks. I then literally stood up (while all other people were still sitting as the principal meant this more figuratively off-course) for what I believed in. This caused quite a giggle.
- I am known by most of my close friends (specifically those of the Rustenburg Rainbow Nation Clan) to be black on the inside.
- I have trained my family to not see colour for years and the success of my attempts was definitely established in a revolutionary moment during the Soccer World Cup 2010, when my mom was not able to tell the difference between the Ghana and Uruguay soccer players. When questioned about it, her response was... "I see no colour..."
- My Tswana name is Masetswena which means "crazy lady"...and come to think of it, probably has nothing to do with this post.
- And on another totally unrelated note - I did wear a "black sash" on my wedding day.
I hope this post will remind people that although most people (of a lighter complexion) seemed to have ignored their conscience during the Apartheid years, there were many people who were against it from the beginning and who stood up for their beliefs in their own ways...