The 9th of August is a particularly special day for South Africans and not just because it is a public holiday and we get to skip school but because of the reason for the holiday. In 1956 a monumental march was held in Pretoria the likes of which had never been seen before and here is why…
During the Apartheid era in South Africa’s history black citizens were required to carry a document called a “Pass” at all times in order to prove that they were allowed in “White areas”. This did not sit right with many people and rightfully so.
So on the 9th of August 1956 a massive march was held and participated in by over 200 000 women of all ages and races. This march was the largest of its kind in the country’s history and was organised by the Federation of South African Women and led by 4 incredible women; Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophie Williams and Lilian Ngoyi.
The four women led the march to the Union Building in Pretoria in order to deliver a petition signed by the women in the march to the then Prime Minister JG Strijdom to voice their anger and frustration at the restrictions placed on the women of SA.
The march was an unparalleled success with the women singing songs of freedom like Nkosi sikeleli Afrika and the unofficial anthem of the march, Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom. This was a landmark in SA’s history as the women refused to be ignored and that is why we remember the amazing women on the 9th of August every year through National Women’s Day