“Today is a beautiful day,” Ramahlwe Mphahlele says about Women’s Day. “However, we need to celebrate women every day, because, let’s be honest, without a woman, I wouldn’t have been born and wouldn’t be here.”
National Women’s Day is an annual public holiday in South Africa, which is held this year on Wednesday, 9 August.
The holiday commemorates the national march of women in 1956 to petition against legislation that required Africans to carry the ‘pass’.
The ‘pass’ was an identification document which restricted a black South African’s freedom of movement under apartheid. The ‘pass’ allowed them to enter ‘white’ areas.
On 9 August 1956, 20 000 women staged a march to Pretoria’s Union Buildings to protest against proposed amendments to the act. They left petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures at the office door of the prime minister, J.G. Strijdom. They stood silently outside his door for 30 minutes.
Thereafter the women sang a protest song which was composed in honour of the occasion. In the 60 years since, the phrase Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock) has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.
“The women of South Africa are the strongest,” continues Mphahlele, “they often carry whole families. Many are single mothers.
“We have to stop the abuse against women. Over the past few weeks I have been reading a lot of bad news with women being killed, raped, beaten up and put into prostitution. It is men who are doing this and that is why it is up to us men to stand up and stop this.”
Mphahlele plans to take his wife and two kids out for lunch today, to celebrate Women’s Day.
“We should all respect women,” Joseph Molangoane comments. “Let’s top abusing women and let’s take good care of them.
“We always have to remember what women do for us,” Brilliant Khuzwayo says. “We need to acknowledge this, as nothing in this world would be possible without women.
The goalkeeper has a six year-old daughter, Asanda. “I love her dearly,” Khuzwayo adds, “and I want her to grow up in a South Africa where the rights of women are respected. We also need to fight against women trafficking.”
Kaizer Chiefs urges all South Africans to celebrate the rocks in our lives and to thank all women who make a positive difference in the world.